fessional collaborations that are being used across the country to improve access to high-quality educational opportunities for nurses at all levels.
One way to ensure the availability of a qualified workforce is through the enhanced use of technology, Jeffries said. Nursing education today is very “siloed.” There are theory classes with lectures and Power-Point presentations and laboratories where students learn specific skills. “Then, by magic, we take [nurses] to a clinical practicum where they are supposed to be putting everything together and [demonstrating a] higher order of learning and critical thinking. But they have never practiced that,” Jeffries asserted. The use of technology in nursing education offers opportunities to break down some of the silos and prepare students for decision making in complex care environments.
Simulations employing technology can allow students to practice skills, learn professional behavior, and demonstrate clinical reasoning in a safe environment, Jeffries said. Though more evidence is needed on the outcomes of using simulations as a teaching strategy, it engages students and provides them with higher-level learning opportunities they have not had before, such as clinical decision making, prioritization, and delegation skills.
Clinical simulations can be incorporated across theory, laboratory, and clinical courses. If done correctly, simulations enable a student-centered approach in which students are immersed in situations where they have to solve problems and think critically. “Every time I see students in simulations, I learn something new,” Jeffries said. The most critical component of a simulation is the debriefing afterward; this process of guided reflection is where students learn the most. “They don’t know what they don’t know until you immerse them in a simulation,” she said.
The use of simulations has exploded in the past 5 years, and federal funding may further increase their use. Regional “sim” centers are being built across the country and around the world, Jeffries said. More ad-