Both graduate nursing students and external nursing education colleagues alike will be gaining new skills and knowledge this spring semester as the College of Nursing launches Simulation in Higher Education and Healthcare. This unique combination of theory and practice is a graduate level course as well as a continuing education offering and will run from January to May. It will be taught by Colleen Meakim, MSN, RN, director of the Learning Resource Center (LRC) and a charter member of the International Nursing Association for Clinical Simulation and Learning (INACSL) for which she has held multiple committee and board positions.
Since 1999, there has been an explosion in the development of resources for and information about the use of simulation in nursing education programs. Educators in higher education and health care settings are trying to catch up and become proficient in this new specialty.
“If educators are to function in today’s educational environments, they need a more specific and detailed program of study to better prepare them for the realities of the educational environments specifically as it relates to simulation,” notes Meakim. She helps drive the use of technology as a teaching-learning strategy in support of the faculty and undergraduate and graduate nursing students at Villanova. Additionally, Meakim has authored articles on the subject, hosted and helped plan several simulation conferences and seminars, showcased technology for colleagues, crafted national standards in simulation and created new simulation and programming scenarios. Her advancement of the field has been recognized with the INACSL Award for Excellence in the Academic Setting.
This course generates excitement among educators as few courses such as this are currently offered. Those enrolled will avail themselves of the rich resources of Driscoll Hall’s 12,000 sq. ft. LRC housing the latest technology in computer-driven human patient simulators, simulated clinical environments and control rooms as well as electronic video capture and evaluation systems.
Not only will students gain theoretical knowledge and analyze the state of the science, but they will also become familiar with human patient simulators, task trainers and standardized patients (actors trained to mimic real patient behaviors in scenarios). They will better understand roles, the underpinnings of the technology and the art of debriefing and guided reflection. Meakim notes this is a hands-on course. “Students will work with a design template to create a simulation scenario and utilize mannequin computer software for high fidelity simulation activities. They will also be guided in the creation and implementation of a simulation activity as a capstone project for the course.”
Why is the subject so critical for educators? Meakim cites Mark Benno, Apple computer curriculum evangelist, who states: “The time it takes for educators to move from learning about a piece of technology to actually integrating and manipulating its specific uses for teaching is seven years. Faculty development can shorten the time to 2.5 years.” She adds, “It’s time to decrease their technologic and informational learning curve.”