February 18, 2020By Susan Forneris

NLN Exclusive: Innovating Faculty Development in Nursing Simulation: Part 1

Is “innovation” just today’s new buzz word in Nursing Simulation or is it something more? The National League for Nursing (NLN) Center for Innovation in Education Excellence takes innovation beyond the buzz in their mission to design and deliver new and effective faculty development teaching and learning resources that reach today’s learners and optimize learning outcomes. Here, Dr. Susan Gross Forneris, PhD, RN, CNE, CHSE-A, FAAN Director, NLN Center for Innovation in Education Excellence and editor of the NLN TEQ Blog, explores Innovating Faculty Development in Nursing Simulation with a 2 part article series.

Innovation is not a new mission for the NLN. For nearly two decades, beginning with the launch of the first national, multi-site, multi-method study in 2003, the NLN has been at the forefront of nursing simulation faculty development. This project, led by Drs. Pamela Jeffries and Mary Anne Rizzolo and sponsored by Laerdal Medical with the NLN, was titled “Designing and Implementing Models for the Innovative Use of Simulation to Teach Nursing Care of Ill Adults and Children.

This first simulation study laid the foundation for the development of resources that would enable nurse educators to further incorporate simulation as a teaching/learning strategy. Specifically, in the last 10 years, the NLN has been part of the simulation in nursing revolution and the major impact it has had on all aspects of nursing education (Waxman, Bowler, Forneris, Kardong-Edgren, Rizzolo, 2019).

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Today, the NLN Center of Innovation in Education Excellence focuses nursing simulation education innovation through the NLN Simulation and Technology Institute. Central to the institute’s work is the development of practical resources for nurse educators to meet the needs of their learners and achieve program and student learning outcomes.

As a disruptor, clinical simulation has exposed gaps in how nursing curricula are operationalized. Simulation moves educators from conceptualizing the classroom as a series of lectures to a contextual learning encounter. This means that the emphasis shifts from dumping content into the heads of learners to engaging our learners in using content as a teaching and learning strategy.

For nurse educators, healthcare simulation is a means to refocus our planning with greater emphasis on our learners (e.g., who they are, why they learn, what they need to learn, how they learn). A focused approach on the learner persona informs the design for our teaching and learning encounters. As a result, nursing simulation and debriefing across the curriculum naturally engage planning that thoughtfully links content (nursing knowledge) to context (nursing encounters), from a focus on teaching to a focus on learning (Forneris & Fey, 2018). Learning outcomes drive this shift in focus and the direction of the learning experience.

This development is not an easy one for nurse educators. It is hard to stop lecturing and engage context in our teaching. Why is that? Do we teach the way we were taught because we don’t know how to teach any other way? Skiba (2017) raises an important point about higher education administrative support for embracing innovation. If higher education faculty evaluation systems do not lend themselves to a safe container for teaching innovation, faculty will continue the status quo.

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Innovating faculty development in healthcare simulation requires creative problem solving, embracing risk, and being patient. Like our learners, educators need to be able create in a safe environment, a climate with freedom to toss around new ideas and tolerance if the idea is not successful. Passion for teaching and learning fuels the overall process.

Barriers are inherent in innovation. In part 2 of “Innovating Faculty Development in Nursing Simulation”, read about emerging trends in health care practice driving the use of technology – especially simulation in healthcare – and the challenges ahead for higher education.


  • Forneris, S. G., & Fey, M. (2018). Critical conversations: The NLN Guide for Teaching Thinking. Washington, DC: National League for Nursing. ISBN/ISSN: 9781496396266
  • Skiba, D. (2017). Horizon Report: Knowledge obsolescence, artificial intelligence, and rethinking the educator role [Emerging Technologies Center]. Nursing Education Perspectives, 38(3), 165-167. doi: 10.1097/01.NEP.0000000000000154
  • Waxman, K. T., Bowler, F., Forneris, S. G., Kardong-Edgren, S., & Rizzolo, M. A. (2019). Simulation as a nursing education disrupter. Nursing Administration Quarterly, 43(4), 300-330. doi: 10.1097/NAQ.0000000000000369.

About the  NLN TEQ Blog

The NLN TEQ blog is brought to you by the NLN Center for Innovation in Education Excellence. TEQ contributors blog on topics that keep nurse educators up-to-date with the latest innovations in simulation, technology, e-learning, telehealth, and informatics. The TEQ Blog editorial advisory board features nurse educators who have strong writing skills and an interest in being a regular blog contributor and/or peer reviewer. Blog content focuses on innovative and contemporary technology thinking across the continuum of nursing education and practice.

Visit the NLN’s TEQ Blog For More Great Nursing Simulation Guides!

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