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How Simulation is Training the Next Generation of Nurses

“The teaching strategy is to create a level of realism that can be experienced by the learner so they can interact in a learning scenario the same way they would interact if this were in real life,” says Susan Gross Forneris, PhD, RN, CNE, CHSE-A, excelsior director of the National League for Nursing’s Center for Innovation in Simulation and Technology.

Simulation can take many forms, including role playing; virtual and computer based simulations; and using mannequins to simulate real patients. Simulation doesn’t have to involve technology but it often does. CPR classes are an example.

Caring for patients is more complex than ever and it’s essential that nurses are ready to meet those patient needs. Forneris says sim is a match for the next generation of nurses, Gen Z, who have always known technology.

Finding balance

Clinical instruction used to be the gold standard for training nurses but that’s changing. A National Council of State Boards of Nursing, Inc.’s three-year study showed that up to 50 percent simulation in nurse training can be effectively substituted for traditional clinical experience.

Simulation’s experiential learning gives students an opportunity to integrate classroom theory with real-time practice in a safe environment without posing any risk to patients.

In recent years, it’s been challenging for nurses to get clinical placements in healthcare settings, especially in pediatrics and obstetrics.

“If we can simulate these environments, we can better prepare our future nurses,” says Forneris, who has worked in the clinical simulation field for over a decade.


Nursing schools take best practices very seriously, including training faculty to teach sim to students. There are standards of quality too from the International Nursing Association for Clinical Simulation and Learning (INACSL) and the Society for Simulation in Healthcare (SSH). 

Forneris says nursing schools should use sim, where appropriate, to fill gaps in their teaching.

“Students love it because they can engage in the experience,” she says, noting simulation creates conversations to help nurses learn and develop their skills.

Kristen Castillo, [email protected]

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