Teaching nurse educators how to use simulation effectively

Pelin Karaçay |

It takes more than the latest equipment.

Teaching nurse educators how to use simulation effectively
The author uses her knowledge of simulation theory and teaching strategies to teach nurse educators how to use the technology effectively.

Pelin KaraçayWhen I began my undergraduate education, I knew virtually nothing about nursing but found myself enrolled in Istanbul University Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing. In the years that followed, the theory courses and clinical practicums increased my interest in the profession, and I came to realize the importance of nursing care—how it touches people’s hearts and makes a difference in their lives. When I graduated in 1997, I was enthusiastic about the next phase.

I decided to work in the emergency department (ED) because it admits patients with various illnesses—from minor to severe. Also, in the ED, nurses have more autonomy and, thus, greater potential for learning and growing professionally. During the next 7 ½ years, in addition to my duties as an emergency staff nurse, I obtained several certifications to enhance my skills, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), basic electrocardiography (ECG), and advanced cardiac life support. But I wasn’t satisfied. In 2002, five years after graduating from the university, I undertook the next phase of my journey. To better serve ED patients and reinforce my medical knowledge skill sets, I started a master’s program in emergency nursing at Marmara University Institute of Health Sciences.

From the ED to the classroom
After obtaining my master’s, I wanted to use my knowledge and skills to teach nursing students how to touch people’s hearts and make a difference in their lives. So, in 2004, I began working as a lecturer at Koç University School of Nursing. Also that year, I began working at the Semahat Arsel Nursing Education and Research Center as an educator and as a coordinator of postgraduate courses, which include triage, emergency care, postoperative care, CPR, ECG, nurse educator training, and physical assessment. 

In 2007, I had the opportunity to observe at Texas Medical Center in Houston, Texas, USA. My two-month stay included visits to Ben Taub Hospital, emergency and intensive care units of Texas Children’s Hospital, and skills lab and master’s courses at Texas Woman’s University College of Nursing. The experience broadened my knowledge and skills about triage and intensive care nursing and stimulated new ways of thinking about health and nursing education systems. 

Learning about simulation
In 2011, I spent 1 ½ months at Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing (JHUSN) in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, learning about simulation teaching and learning strategies. In addition to interviewing and working with faculty members who are experts in simulation, I had the opportunity to spend time with Pamela Jeffries, PhD, RN, FAAN, ANEF, now dean of the George Washington University School of Nursing. Sometimes called the mother of simulation, Jeffries is well-known for developing the NLN Jeffries Simulation Theory. While at JHUSN, I developed a simulation laboratory plan for our school in Istanbul and shared it with our faculty members. Upon my return to Turkey, we began using manikin-based simulation teaching strategies and incorporating simulation in our skills laboratory. Since then, I have continued to increase my knowledge of simulation teaching and learning strategies and have been writing scenarios. 

Pursuing a PhD degree provided the opportunity to conduct simulation research. In 2012, during my first year as a PhD student at Istanbul University Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, I had the opportunity to travel as an exchange PhD student to the State University of New York Decker School of Nursing in Binghamton. As a result of discussing simulation styles and applications with educators there, taking classes in simulation theory, and becoming aware of simulation challenges at universities in Turkey and around the world, I recognized the need—confirmed in the literature—for increased training of simulation educators. 

Finding my focus
Universities buy manikin simulators and build laboratories, and vendor employees teach how to use them, but no one teaches nurse educators how to use simulation as a teaching strategy. It takes time to become a competent simulation educator. Starting out, novice educators can write basic simulation scenarios, but to take full advantage of the technology, it is essential to have competent educators. 

This, I decided, should be the focus of my PhD research—to design a simulation education program, based on standards developed by the International Nursing Association for Clinical Simulation and Learning (INACSL), for nursing faculty. It is the first such program in Turkey. Inviting all nursing faculty members in Turkey to participate, I measured the effect of my simulation education program on outcomes—for faculty and students. As we know, if educators are unable to plan a simulation from start to finish, they are unable to achieve desired learning objectives. 

Summing up, it is easy to spend money for simulation software, manikins, and related technology, but before doing so, faculty members and administrators should consider the usage rate of the equipment and the training needed for the educators who will use it. I am on the curriculum committee of our school, and we have integrated simulation as a teaching and learning strategy. We have a new simulation center and are using it with medical students and our hospital’s professional healthcare workers. To increase use of simulation and to ensure that we achieve desired outcomes, I continue to follow the literature and stay current on the latest innovations in simulation. RNL

Pelin Karaçay, PhD, RN, is an instructor doctor in the Fundamentals of Nursing Department, Koç University School of Nursing, Istanbul, Turkey.

Editor’s note: Pelin Karaçay will present a session titled “Effects of a Simulation Education Program on Faculty Members’ and Students’ Outcomes,” on Friday, 20 April at Nursing Education Research Conference 2018 in Washington, D.C.

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