March 14, 2022By Lance Baily

Drexel University Nursing Learners Reflect on Virtual Simulation Experience During COVID-19

Healthcare simulation is an important element of any nursing educator’s academic journey. The practice of clinical simulation prepares learners to face challenges and improve patient safety outcomes in a controlled environment. This medical simulation experience is a centerpiece of Drexel University’s three-day, on-campus practicum for the institution’s online MSN in Nursing Education. Historically, during the practicum learners are given the chance to engage with Drexel’s on-campus simulation lab. However, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the faculty at Drexel’s College of Nursing and Health Professions had to adapt the entire curriculum to be accessible online. This also meant having to find a way to move the healthcare simulation portion of the experience online as well.

Julia Ross and Jenna Mechalas, both recent graduates from the program, participated in the online practicum. To fulfill the clinical simulation component of the academic experience, the students entered into a Zoom meeting where an actor portrayed a learner. From there, they were able to practice facilitating debriefings and working through difficult conversations, as they would have otherwise been able to do in person.

Next, Ross and Mechalas received feedback from the actors and from their professors. Mechalas was initially a little nervous about participating in the online practicum, but Drexel’s faculty quickly put her fears at ease.

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“There’s always a learning curve with any new task, so I did have some anxiety surrounding the experience. Drexel’s staff was aware of the complications in regard to online simulation and assisted us whenever necessary. They were very in-tune with each of our needs and had backup plans in case anything went amiss,” Mechalas said. “I really commend Drexel’s Nursing instructors for providing us with a well-thought-out simulation.”

Despite not getting to participate in the clinical simulation experiences on-campus, Ross says she found the online practicum extremely helpful. She shared that In some ways she believed the online healthcare simulations were even more beneficial to education.

“I think it was just as good, if not even a little bit better because education is transitioning to the online environment. I think it provided us with an opportunity to practice certain things that in an in-person setting we may not have been able to,” said Ross. “I don’t think it was a barrier…I’ve been really impressed with the way that Drexel has created a really interactive and engaging online learning environment.”

Learners in the MSN in Nursing Education aren’t the only ones working with virtual simulations. Beverly Price, a student in the online MSN in Healthcare Simulation, is only a few courses into her degree, but she’s already picking up some helpful tools to use on the job. Price started her career as a nurse and now works as a clinical simulation operations specialist. Even with a career in the field, Price wanted to pursue her degree in healthcare simulation in order to be eligible to sit for the Certified Healthcare Simulation Educator (CHSE) certification exam.

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“It’s a major [accomplishment] for me to be able to say, yes, I have an MSN,” Price shared. “I want to stay within the simulation [field]. So, if I get a degree that’s healthcare simulation with an MSN, that’s a perfect marriage for a degree for me. And the fact that [Drexel University’s program] helps me to achieve the CHSE, that was just a win-win.”

Price just finished her first term at Drexel University and is already implementing some of the skills and knowledge of technology she’s learned in class into her job. During one of her courses, Price learned to use Flipgrid, a video discussion application. She has since implemented the tool to assist learners in recording their healthcare assessments and in receiving feedback.

“I’ve already been in my role for two years,” said Price. “I’m really using these courses to build expertise in this field…I’m trying to apply [these skills] as I’m learning them.”

More About Drexel University’s MSN in Nursing Education

Drexel’s CCNE-accredited online Master’s in Nursing Education (MSN) readies learners for the role of the nurse educator in either professional development or academic setting. The curriculum incorporates core graduate-level concepts (patient safety, ethics, advocacy, and research), advanced clinical concepts, and contemporary education content to prepare nurses for diverse roles in education. The program includes all nurse educator competencies and prepares graduates to successfully pass the Certified Nursing Educator Exam.

In addition, learners are given a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the art and science of healthcare simulation with a course that teaches them how to plan, create, facilitate, evaluate, and revise clinical simulation scenarios to fit the needs of learners in various educational settings. This course is great preparation for the Certified Healthcare Simulation Educator Exam.

More About Drexel University

Located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Drexel University Online offers quality internet-based higher education, including 140+ fully-accredited master’s degrees, bachelor’s degrees, and certificate programs. Since 1891, the university has built a reputation for educating some of the most innovative and forward-thinking students in the country and around the world.

At Drexel, the faculty is a mix of full-time professors and current industry leaders, all with years of experience in their fields. Members of Drexel’s faculty have started biotech companies, conducted research on the neuroscience of learning, served in the military, and even worked on Supreme Court cases. They bring this diverse and far-reaching experience to the classroom, infusing their courses with real-world experience to ensure students are learning what really matters in their careers.

Online students learn from the same faculty as their peers on campus, meaning they have access to some of the brightest minds in the country, no matter where they are located. Each program is designed for professionals who want to complete their education without compromising quality for convenience. Ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the “Best Online Graduate Programs” in the fields of business administration, engineering, nursing, and library science, Drexel’s online programs are among the elite in the nation.

Learn More About Drexel University’s MSN in Nursing Education

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