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NLN Publishes First Comprehensive Guide to Simulations in Nursing Education


Volume Follows Conclusion of Three-Year Research Study of Simulations Funded by Grant from Laerdal Medical Corporation


March 5, 2007—New York, NY— Today's complex health care environment demands that nurses are able to make quick assessments and clinical decisions. Simulations and high tech mannequins offer an extraordinary tool for 21st-century nursing education helping to teach nurses to handle unusual emergencies, such as acts of bio-terrorism, without prior direct experience.

"Its so important for nursing students to practice what they learn in the classroom before they deal with actual patients," explained NLN CEO Dr. Beverly Malone. "Students and faculty get very tied up in making the simulation real for themselves. It helps eliminate some of their insecurity, because they know theyre inexperienced, and they dont want to hurt anybody."

While medical simulations have been in vogue for many years, little research has been done in the field, for instance investigating how to best design and implement simulations and under what conditions they are most effective in nursing education.

In 2003, the National League for Nursing received a grant from Laerdal Medical Corporation, a leading manufacturer of life-saving medical equipment, to examine simulation as a sophisticated teaching tool to supplement learning in classroom, laboratory, and clinical settings.

Eight schools of nursing participated in the three-year study of simulation techniques under the direction of Dr. Pamela Jeffries and implemented by onsite project coordinators at each school. With the goal of contributing to the refinement of the body of knowledge related to simulation use in nursing education, Dr. Jeffries developed a teaching-learning framework and instruments to measure selected aspects of the work within that framework, which involved a case study and comparisons of a static mannequin with a high-fidelity patient simulator.

High-tech simulators are remarkable for their ability to mimic reality through verbalization of medical complaints and display of vital signs, such as heartbeats and blood pressure, that students may monitor with standard hospital equipment. Now that schools of nursing can better afford this equipment, it is important to the field to understand how it can be used most effectively, in comparison to low-tech simulators.

Following the studys conclusion, "participants wanted to share what they had learned that went well beyond the scope of the research," said Dr. Mary Anne Rizzolo, the senior director for professional development at the NLN who provided staff support throughout the project. She cited the creation of templates to guide simulation design and development; debriefing following a simulation; integrating simulations into the curriculum; and setting up a simulation laboratory as new skill sets that emerged from the research.

The researchers valuable insights and practical guidance have now been published in Simulation in Nursing Education: From Conceptualization to Evaluation, (NLN, 2007), the first comprehensive guide of its kind for nurse educators. The volume was edited by Dr. Jeffries, the project director.

In 10 chapters, participating nurse faculty instruct peers in the design, development, use, and evaluation of simulation methods in nursing education, said Dr. Rizzolo, who co-authored the books final chapter. There, she reflects on the future of simulation in nursing education. "Its loaded with information and practical advice," noted Dr. Rizzolo, such as how simulation may be used for student remediation in selected skills and assessment of student skills and decision-making capability.

Copies of Simulation in Nursing Education may be purchased at A summary of the research project, published in the appendix to Simulation in Nursing Education, can also be found on the NLN website.

Editors and reporters: For interview opportunities, please contact NLN chief communications officer, Karen R. Klestzick, at 212-812-0376,