Simulation lab nursing school experiences are an essential component of the ABSN curriculum. When learning how to become a nurse, you’ll need hands-on practice to ensure you’re ready to care for real patients. Nursing simulation labs provide a safe and supportive environment where you can learn.
The reality of nursing is that no two patient care situations are alike. Because every patient has a unique personality and background, nurses need to be able to adapt their care approach. One of the ways Northeastern University’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program prepares you for the profession is having you participate in diverse simulation lab nursing scenarios.
Keep reading to get nitty-gritty details on what students do in nursing simulation labs, why simulations are such a beneficial experience, and how to succeed in the sim lab.
What Are Simulation Labs?
Northeastern’s simulation lab nursing experiences teach you how to approach complex patient care scenarios. These simulations follow a natural learning progression — as the ABSN curriculum advances, so do the scenarios.
Early in the program, simulations focus on the basics of nursing practice, such as patient safety, physical assessment, and interprofessional communication. Subsequent simulations are more complex, involving multifaceted patient care scenarios.
For example, there’s a simulation where you need to tend to a new mother experiencing postpartum bleeding. Yes, there will be blood — but don’t worry, it’s fake.
Sim lab sessions typically last about an hour, and much of that time is spent debriefing with your instructor after the simulation. In lab you’ll learn to recognize a clinical abnormality, respond to the situation, prioritize your actions, and deal with the emotions of the situation.
Overall, simulation offers a realistic learning environment where you can demonstrate what you know without adverse consequence. In turn, your instructors can observe how well you integrate theory, practice, and reasoning in real-time clinical situations and then offer helpful guidance.
Why Are Simulation Labs Important? 5 Benefits of Simulations
Simulation labs in nursing school have numerous benefits for aspiring nurses. Here are a few of the reasons the Northeastern ABSN program places such high importance on simulations:
1. A Safe Practice Setting
Our nursing simulation lab scenarios provide opportunities for you to intervene in realistic clinical situations without the fear of harming an actual patient. You’ll find we have some of the most sophisticated patient simulators in our simulation lab nursing facility. They can bleed, make biological sounds, respond to drug interactions, and deliver vocal responses.
Labs let you practice complex clinical situations without the chance of making a mistake with an actual patient. This helps you feel at ease when learning.
2. A Connection to Online Courses
Before you participate in a simulation, you’ll need specific knowledge and skills that stem from your didactic nursing coursework. It’s important these simulation lab nursing scenarios align with your skill level so you can get the most out of each experience.
For example, one simulation you may complete is a diabetes education simulation, where you’ll help a patient understand type 1 diabetes and learn how to manage it. Before completing this scenario, you’ll have already studied diabetes in your online coursework, so the nursing simulation lab lets you apply that knowledge clinically.
In nursing school, you need to learn the fundamentals of nursing, which comes from online courses. You’ll then transfer what you learn into a psychomotor skill during nursing skills labs. Finally, you’ll apply your learning to patient care situations during simulations and clinical rotations. All of this ensures you’re ready for professional nursing after graduation.
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3. An Opportunity for Instructor and Peer Feedback
An instructor will observe each of your simulation lab nursing scenarios. They even control what your patient simulator manikin says and does. After the simulation completes, the instructor will facilitate the student debrief session. Students are encouraged to offer insight and feedback to each other during this time, and the instructor can guide the conversation to ensure the learning objectives are met.
During an online-based nursing program like the ABSN, in-person lab time with your instructors and peers is essential to ensure your hands-on skills are on track.
While instructors will offer feedback, labs are not a graded activity. Students get participation credit, but we keep grades out of nursing simulations because they would alter the learning dynamic of these activities. Nursing simulation isn’t about getting out the red pen to emphasize student mistakes. It’s a teaching strategy that uses positive reinforcement to help improve and expand your skills. We want you to feel good about the process and approach every simulation eager to see how much you know and what you still need to learn.
4. A Chance to Develop Essential Skills
Simulation lab nursing scenarios are designed to help you learn skills that you’ll use every day as a nurse, such as critical thinking. You’ll learn how to think on your feet and respond to unexpected emergencies. Lab also strengthens your skills with patient assessment, medical record-keeping, interpersonal communication, empathy, problem-solving, and prioritization.
5. Preparation for Clinical Rotations
Simulation labs help you become more confident and competent, which will help you do better in clinical rotations with real patients. Simulation is a great place to make mistakes, as mistakes will teach you how to improve in the future. One way simulations improve competence is by preparing you to recognize heart and lung sounds, which will help you correctly identify those sounds when working with real patients.
Practicing your skills in a mock clinical setting also helps remove fear of the unknown. You become accustomed to thinking on your feet in different nursing scenarios, which makes for an easier transition into the real world. Students tell us time and time again simulation helped boost their confidence when working with a real patient for the first time.
3 Tips for Success in Nursing Simulation Labs
As you begin the accelerated nursing school at Northeastern, here are a few ways to succeed in nursing simulation labs:
1. Step into Lab Prepared
Before each simulation lab, you’ll want to review any lab materials and brush up on the topics that will be covered during the scenario. This will help you feel more confident when you go into the patient simulation room.
2. Own Your Unique Learning Process
Everyone learns differently and comes to a simulation with different life experiences. While the look, feel, and objectives of a nursing simulation are the same for all ABSN students, the way you navigate the experience will be different from your peers.
For instance, you may meet the learning objective in 15 minutes, whereas another student may take 10 minutes. And that’s OK because there’s always more than one way of doing something.
Through simulation technology, we can take a nursing scenario in different directions based on your individual learning needs. We can make “on the fly adjustments” to a patient scenario based on your clinical actions and behavioral responses.
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3. Participate Fully in Debriefs
After each simulation, you’ll participate in a debriefing to discuss your experience — the primary learning component of the activity. These debriefings encourage you to reflect on the simulation while giving us the opportunity to understand your actions and clinical approach. To get the most out of your experience, go into the debrief with an open mind ready to learn. After all, every piece of feedback you get can help you become a better nurse.
Step into Your Nursing Future at Northeastern
As you can see, simulation labs in nursing school are a key piece of the curriculum of any great nursing program. The ABSN program at Northeastern, with locations near Boston, Massachusetts, and in Charlotte, North Carolina, combines online learning with skills and simulation labs and clinicals to give you a well-rounded education.
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If you have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, or at least 62 non-nursing college credits for our Charlotte location, you may be eligible for admission.
Contact our admissions counselors to learn more about Northeastern’s ABSN program and how to make your nursing dreams a reality.