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Updated on March 7th, 2014 at 9:11 am

By: Diana Taibi Buchanan, PhD, RN

Simulation is an important tool for teaching the health professions.  Various types of basic simulations have been used for many years, such as using an orange to practice injections.  In recent years, there has been growing interest in and use of high-fidelity simulation, meaning that the simulated learning environment closely resembles reality (Hayden, 2010; Kardong-Edgren, Willhaus, Bennett, & Hayden, 2012).  High-fidelity simulation activities tend to focus on management of a full clinical situation rather than development of psychomotor skills (for which high-fidelity is not necessary).  As this trend has grown, colleges and universities have acquired simulation equipment, but often remain stymied as to the use of these resources. 

To examine the simulation learning needs of health profession educators, InCITE (a HRSA grant awarded to UW to create faculty development in the use of technology) conducted an online survey in the northwestern United States, which will be appearing in an upcoming issue of Clinical Simulation in Nursing (Taibi & Kardong-Edgren, in press).  The majority of the 66 respondents instructed nursing students.   Although all respondents were interested in simulation, only 23% reported using clinical simulation in their teaching.

The areas in which training was most needed were:

·         teaching interprofessional communication in a simulation (highly rated by 80% of respondents)

·         leading a post-simulation debriefing (70%)

·         integrating simulation into course curricula (66%)

The lowest need was mechanically operating a simulator (49%).

These findings are encouraging in showing that instructors are focused on the uses of simulation for teaching rather than being concerned with the technology itself.  In addition, the survey results  show that educators have great interest in areas for which simulation is uniquely well-suited: interprofessional education (IPE) and reflective learning (debriefing).

To address these training needs, InCITE has developed free resources to help educators become more facile with simulation in education.  To meet the topmost survey need, the InCITE website offers an entire IPE toolkit:  The toolkit includes instructor guides, a video example of a real simulation, a TeamSTEPPS® training lesson, evaluation forms, and pre/post assessment tool to assess student learning.  The InCITE Simulation Workgroup also produced four basic and three advanced online courses on general simulation topics.  To date, these materials have been used by individuals in nine countries, across five continents.

In summary, our survey confirms the findings of other research studies that lack of adequate training remains a substantial barrier to the use of clinical simulation in education of the health professions (Adamson, 2010; Hayden, 2010; Jansen et al., 2009).  It is important for instructors to be aware of resources, such as our IPE toolkit and self-paced training modules, that can help simulation to become a more standard part of health professional education, for instructors as well as students.


Adamson, K. (2010). Integrating human patient simulation into associate degree nursing curricula: Faculty experiences, barriers, and facilitators. Clinical Simulation in Nursing, 6(3), e75-e81. doi:10.1016/j.ecsns.2009.06.002.

Hayden, J. (2010). Use of simulation in nursing education: National survey results. Journal of Nursing Regulation, 1(3), 52-57.

Jansen, D. A., Johnson, N., Larson, G., Berry, C., & Brenner, G. H. (2009). Nursing faculty perceptions of obstacles to utilizing manikin-based simulations and proposed solutions. Clinical Simulation in Nursing, 5(1), e9-e16. doi: 10.1016/j.ecns.2008.09.004.

Kardong-Edgren, S., Willhaus, J., Bennett, D., & Hayden, J. (2012). Results of the National Council of State Boards of Nursing National Simulation Survey: Part II. Clinical Simulation in Nursing, 8(4), e117-e123. doi:10.1016/j.ecns.2012.01.003.

Taibi, D. M. & Kardong-Edgren, S.  (In press).  Healthcare educator training in simulation: a survey and website development.  Clinical Simulation in Nursing.

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