The Value of Virtual Patient Scenarios

The Value of Virtual Patient Scenarios

In nursing education, using simulations is like creating a situation that’s very close to real care. Simulations can be grouped based on how much they look like real situations: very real, somewhat real, or not so real. Simulations help students practice their decision-making skills in a safe place, so they’re ready for real situations in clinics. Virtual patient simulations are a type of very real simulation. They’re super lifelike and give students a lot of interaction and realism.

Virtual patient simulations are often just as good as or even better than other very real simulations. Here are some reasons from Shadow Health’s Research Report, Using Virtual Patient Simulation in Place of Traditional Clinical Hours in Nursing School, that show how virtual patient simulations can help students practice their decision-making skills:

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Advantages in Classrooms:

– Studies show that virtual patient situations can feel more real and tough than using manikins or actors. This is because we can make virtual situations that focus on things we can’t show easily otherwise, like weird heartbeats or breathing sounds.
– For online or mixed programs, using super lifelike manikins might not work well for teaching clinical stuff. Virtual patient simulations can work for any student, no matter where they are.
– Setting up and keeping up simulation labs with real-looking manikins needs a lot of money and people. It’s also tricky to schedule if there are many students. Virtual patient simulations can be more flexible.

Engaging Students:

– Studies show students really get into virtual patient situations. They like practicing their thinking skills in a safe spot before dealing with real patients.
– Virtual patient situations can change how students learn. They make students question what they know when they interact with the “patients.”
– Using computer-based simulations that don’t need real-time interaction, students can get quick feedback on their skills.

For more info, you can read the full whitepaper to see how virtual patient situations like Shadow Health can help students learn decision-making skills for real clinical situations.

In nursing education, simulation provides one of the most accurate possible representations of a care situation. It can be categorized relative to its degree of clinical fidelity: high, intermediate, or low. Simulation also provides students with an opportunity to develop their clinical judgment skills in a safe environment to prepare them for what they may experience in the clinical setting. Virtual patient simulations fall under high-fidelity simulations because they are extremely realistic and provide a high level of interactivity and realism for the learner.

Virtual patient simulations have been comparable or superior to other high-fidelity traditional simulation methods for various reasons. Here are some of the top examples outlined in Shadow Health’s Research Report, Using Virtual Patient Simulation in Substitution for Traditional Clinical Hours in Undergraduate Nursing that support how virtual patient simulations can give students essential practice for developing clinical judgment skills.

Classroom Advantages

  • Research shows that patient scenarios can be more realistic and challenging than manikins or standardized patient actors due to the flexibility to create virtual scenarios that highlight features or skills that would not be accessible otherwise. One example includes physical findings, like abnormal heart rhythms or breath sounds.
  • For online or blended programs, high-fidelity manikins may not be the most effective alternative to account for hours of clinical instruction. Virtual patient simulations can be accessible to any student regardless of where their classroom may be.
  • Because simulation laboratories usually require multiple high-fidelity manikins and specialized faculty and technicians, setup and maintenance costs can be very high. Scheduling can also be complicated for face-to-face nursing programs with 100 or more students, as working groups typically include no more than eight students in simulation laboratories.

Student Engagement

Read more in the whitepaper here on how virtual patient scenarios like Shadow Health can provide positive clinical judgment skill development for your students.

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