January 11, 2024By Erin Carn Bennett

How to Frame Undergraduate Clinical Simulation as a Positive Experience

Undergraduate clinical simulation-based educational experiences are incredibly important for any future healthcare worker. The vast majority of healthcare educational institutes and universities are aware of the power of clinical simulation and have adapted to incorporate clinical simulation-based education into their pathways for the education of healthcare professionals. That said, not every learner is comfortable with the intensive experiential process of medical simulation engagements. This article by Erin Carn-Bennett, MSN, RN, will explore the power of undergraduate clinical simulation and how to maximize this impact for all healthcare workers’ educational frameworks.

First Experiences in Clinical Simulation Leaves Lasting Impressions

As clinical simulation is an educational modality used in healthcare worker education throughout the lifespan of a career in health, an effort to get the first impression right has more of a critical impact than is often realized by clinical simulation facilitators in the undergraduate environment. Therefore, the psychological safety of participants in all healthcare simulations is incredibly important. Without a safe educational space to share and grow from mistakes, knowledge acquisition will only reach a certain depth, and the impact that this has on future clinical simulation experiences is huge. This includes right from the very first healthcare simulation experience as an undergraduate student through the most senior positions held within clinical healthcare across a career lifespan.

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In the healthcare environment, newly graduated healthcare workers can arrive at their new clinical role with fear of clinical simulation-based education due to clinical simulation experiences in their undergraduate training. The first clinical simulation education experiences should be of a high standard as healthcare workers receive undergraduate education. Not only will this set up the student to be far more likely to enjoy clinical simulation in the future, but may also pique their interest in a potential career in clinical simulation as a facilitator.

Many resources are available for the educator, facilitator, and debriefer to design the best clinical simulation for undergraduate students. Here are some of the healthcare simulation resources to design, implement, and evaluate clinical simulations:

Formal Debriefing Education is Essential

As lecturers in specialized healthcare areas, there may be assumptions made by institutions or universities that educators can just provide clinical simulation-based education without any formalized education in healthcare simulation as they are already educators. For the most part, many facilitators of clinical simulation in the undergraduate environment will provide their students with excellent and psychologically safe clinical simulation. However, a formalized certification in clinical simulation-based education as a faculty member can also reinforce and formalize any acquired or presumed knowledge. A formalized certification acknowledges how specialized the role of clinical simulation facilitator is and gives skills required to deliver this education safely and effectively.

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The skill to provide clinical simulation-based education in a psychologically safe manner is a specialized skill and can impact students’ experiences in future clinical simulations. For this reason, the formalization of education of any clinical simulation educator is essential. A multitude of options are available for anyone who provides clinical simulation-based education in many forums, be that online or in person. This education is vital due to the impact that this has on undergraduate students.

View the LEARN CE/CME Platform Webinar Debriefing Psychologically Stressful Simulations: A Different Perspective to learn more!

Continuous Quality Improvement and Quality Assurance

To know what other institutions provide in the clinical simulation realm as a healthcare undergraduate clinical simulation provider will give essential information to benchmark against. These providers may be local and close by or also on an international level. There is usefulness in the exploration of what others in similar fields provide to assist in continual improvement for students in their healthcare simulation experience in the undergraduate educational environment. Connections with other institutions will also give connections to other facilitators where knowledge, experience, and resources can be shared among colleagues with shared common interests.

As an educator for the next generation in healthcare, lecturers are in a powerful and influential position to inspire and influence their students in many ways. This is especially true for undergraduate students’ clinical simulation experiences in this environment. As a clinical simulation educator, the best mindset to have is that there is always something more to learn ways to improve and grow for the student’s experience and the facilitator’s career trajectory.

Consider continuous improvement and quality assurance initiatives to ensure that clinical simulation experiences for undergraduate students are to a high standard and are in keeping with current national and international standards of excellence in the clinical simulation field. This can be started simply by the request of feedback from students who are participants in clinical simulation and the use of this information to guide adaptions to the clinical simulation program that is provided. A simple online survey and QR code in slide decks are not difficult to maintain. Anonymous feedback from participants in clinical simulation via free text options can provide rich information for program improvement.

Prebrief and Debrief for Psychological Safety and Deepen Learning

Prebriefs are a vital part of psychologically safe clinical simulation. This concept is no different in the undergraduate clinical simulation realm. All learners in clinical simulation have a right to safe learning spaces free from assumption and judgment. Pre-briefs are not difficult to create, and there are many formats available to be utilized in clinical simulation.

In clinical simulation circles, the thought often is that clinical simulation-based education is performed so debriefing can occur. Do not undersell the power of clinical simulation debriefing in any environment that includes undergraduate clinical simulation. As a facilitator of undergraduate clinical simulation, know the debriefing tool utilized in the undergraduate environment. If there is no structured debrief tool used as a standard, consider attendance at a formalized clinical simulation debrief education session that has a clear framework to use. Undergraduate students deserve to have psychologically safe and transformational clinical simulation just as much as lecturers deserve to be trained in these specialized skills to provide psychologically safe clinical simulation.

This article has explored the power of possibilities in undergraduate clinical simulation. Undergraduate clinical simulation is an influential space to assist in setting up undergraduate clinical simulation participants for a career of lifelong educational possibilities in psychologically safe clinical simulation. First impressions in a clinical simulation-based education scenario will last with participants. Psychological safety in clinical simulation matters in all environments; which includes the undergraduate setting. A formalized certification in clinical simulation debrief education assists in the benchmark process for facilitators, as does links to other institutions. Undergraduate clinical simulation is often an underrated yet powerful space in which facilitators can have a maximal impact on their clinical simulation participants.

Learn About the NCSBN and INACSL Guidelines for Nursing Simulation

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