Use of a Virtual Learning Platform for Distance-Based Simulation in an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Curriculum

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Background:Acute care nurse practitioner (ACNP) programs that use high-fidelity simulation as a teaching tool need to consider innovative strategies to provide distance-based students with learning experiences that are comparable to those in a simulation laboratory.Objective:The purpose of this article is to describe the use of virtual simulations in a distance-based ACNP program and student performance in the simulations.Method:Virtual simulations using iSimulate were integrated into the ACNP course to promote the translation of content into a clinical context and enable students to develop their knowledge and decision-making skills. With these simulations, students worked as a team, even though they were at different sites from each other and from the faculty, to manage care of an acutely ill patient.Results:The students were assigned to simulation groups of 4 students each. One week before the simulation, they reviewed past medical records. The virtual simulation sessions were recorded and then evaluated. The evaluation tools assessed 8 areas of performance and included key behaviors in each of these areas to be performed by students in the simulation. More than 80% of the student groups performed the key behaviors.Discussion:Virtual simulations provide a learning platform that allows live interaction between students and faculty, at a distance, and application of content to clinical situations. With simulation, learners have an opportunity to practice assessment and decision-making in emergency and high-risk situations. Simulations not only are valuable for student learning but also provide a nonthreatening environment for staff to practice, receive feedback on their skills, and improve their confidence.

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