Policies and Procedures – Keeping Nursing Students Prepared for Simulation

One way to ensure that Nursing students show up prepared and on time for simulation is to include a simulation policy in the student handbook. Include all the faculty expectations related to uniform, supplies and punctuality. Students should treat simulation as they would any other clinical day. Decide on the consequences for tardiness and lack of preparation. Students should be required to sign that they have read and understand the policies in the handbook. Have a system in place to ensure that students who enter the program other than in the first semester will receive a copy of the handbook and have their questions answered about policies.

Include a brief description of anticipated activities during the sim day and expectations related to confidentiality. Confidentiality should be included in the policy. Provide clear expectations related to the debriefing session which should be respectful and supportive. Some policies may include details of the debriefing method used. Please see the attached image for one example of a handbook simulation policy.

Some programs require students to prepare ahead for sim scenarios particularly in the early courses of a program. Disseminating prebriefing information to students can be challenging.  I have experienced a number of methods over the years and some work better than others.  In one school, a busy faculty member was assigned to the task of disseminating prebriefing information however the information was sometimes emailed to students the evening prior to simulation and the students complained about the lack of preparation time. Information can be put in a syllabus but if the scenarios are updated or changed, the students may get old versions or be assigned the wrong scenario. If different scenarios are used for different sections of the same course, the sim coordinator will have to rely on overworked faculty to send out the correct information to the appropriate group of students.

One way that appears to work quite well is to post a simulation schedule with the scenario titles or numbers and then keep a binder in the nursing resource lab with the latest version of scenario information. This way the simulation coordinator can ensure that documents are updated with the latest version of the scenario. Students are held responsible for copying the information and preparing for simulation. If the program has a website for the sim program, the scenario schedule and information can be uploaded easily however not every school has this system. Also following FERPA guidelines, some schools do not allow non course faculty access to class email lists.


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Finally, students should be clear that although simulation activities may be confidential failure to abide by the sim policy such as tardiness will be counted as late for a clinical day.


Today’s article was guest authored by Kim Baily PhD, MSN, RN, CNE, Simulation Coordinator for Los Angeles Harbor College. Over the past 15 years Kim has developed and implemented several college simulation programs and currently chairs the Southern California Simulation Collaborative.

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