Sept. 26, 2023

New nursing instructors experience a simulation just like their students

UCalgary Nursing celebrates the many scenarios of simulation during Health-care Simulation Week
Nursing Instructors Simulation
From left, Tracey Clancy, Niki Singleton, Georgina Bagstad, Ashley Warman, Tammy Hnatyshyn, Shannon Parker

The concept of simulation as a teaching method is not new, especially not for nursing, and is recognized as a highly effective mode to help nursing students care for patients in a safe and supportive manner.

But what about the educators themselves? How they learn about teaching simulation in order to be successful was something UCalgary Nursing’s Georgina Bagstad, RN, BN’87, MN’18, wanted to explore. 

“The nurses who teach clinical nurses tend to be experts in their field but become novices when teaching students,” says Bagstad, assistant professor (teaching), acknowledging a paucity of literature around how new nursing instructors learn the craft of educating their students in the practice setting.

“Many find it difficult to navigate the responsibilities of the role. When surveyed, the common response was that they felt lost. I thought that developing simulation scenarios for new educators could help them apply what they already know and help to fill knowledge gaps. I also felt that a community of learning and support could be developed among the new instructors.” 

For Niki Singleton and Ashley Fagnan, who joined UCalgary Nursing as sessionals this month, the simulation Bagstad created and ran in late August was very valuable. “My experiences with simulation are with labouring patients and resuscitation of newborns; I didn’t have any as a student,” says Singleton, a UVictoria alum and now a UCalgary Nursing graduate student.

“Simulation provides such a realistic feel and energy, allowing the learner to gain a strong sense of where they are.” 

Fagnan, an RN in the NICU and first-time instructor, agrees. “I also didn’t do simulation as an undergrad, but as an Alberta Health Services employee, when re-certifying my Neonatal Resuscitation. It was great to see how everything worked as well as playing through some scenarios.” 

Bagstad set up the simulation first with classroom teaching and learning theory and effective methods of debriefing nursing students, then moved into one-hour simulations with three groups of eight or nine instructors.

“The scenario was interacting with a student nurse who made a mistake,” Bagstad explains, adding that the new instructors had different roles. “In each of two rooms, there was a manikin who was the patient with an experienced simulation instructor in the control room observing and voicing the patient, and two additional people who watched the interactions. Two new sessionals acted as instructors and one acted as the nursing student in each room.” 

Following the simulation, each of the three groups participated in a debriefing session discussing how they felt about the simulation and what they learned. “We had really good feedback with positive comments and exchange of ideas about the learning in the situation,” adds Bagstad, who hopes to continue offering the simulation going forward.

“I would like to survey the participants once they have had experience with their nursing students to further discuss the effectiveness of the simulation and how it may have helped when interacting with nursing students in the practice setting.” 

Fagan and Singleton are looking forward to putting their learning into action. “I feel more prepared to go into simulation with students now,” Singleton says, and she looks forward to seeing the benefits in her classes.

“It is easier to reflect and identify areas needing improvement through simulation, which allows learners to focus on their challenges sooner.”  

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