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October 19, 2023

Pumping Up Skills: Cardiac Simulation in Nursing Education


Ginelle Testa
UbiSim Story Teller

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Meta description: Simulation-based training has emerged as a pivotal tool in the realm of cardiac care. Let’s take a look at high-fidelity manikins and immersive virtual reality.

With heart disease as the leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the CDC, the demand for highly skilled nursing professionals equipped to handle cardiac emergencies has never been higher. Nurses are often the first point of contact, so they need to know how to recognize and respond to these situations using their clinical judgment

Simulation-based training has emerged as a pivotal tool in bridging the gap between theoretical knowledge and real-world application in the realm of cardiac care. The options we’ll take a look at are high-fidelity manikins and immersive virtual reality, such as the UbiSim platform, which is a VR experience built by nurses entirely for nurses.

Research Supporting the Use of Cardiac Simulations

Studies indicate that utilizing simulations for training nurses in critical situations, notably Code Blue events associated with cardiac incidents, leads to marked enhancement in clinical judgment, knowledge, and proficiency. Given this, it's evident that integrating simulation-based instruction for those tasked with attending to high-risk patients has become imperative.

Manikins & Virtual Reality

To provide a robust learning experience, educators can use a hybrid approach that leverages the benefits of both immersive virtual reality and manikin-based simulation side-by-side. A study found that “Virtual reality simulation is more efficient than manikin in simulation-based training, but similar effects can be achieved in both modalities after adequate training.”

Key Features and Advantages of High-Fidelity Manikins

Physiological Responses: These manikins can simulate a wide range of cardiac conditions, including arrhythmias, myocardial infarctions, and heart failures. They can display symptoms such as changes in heart rate, pupil dilation, and cyanosis.

Interactivity: Most high-fidelity manikins come equipped with computerized systems that allow instructors to control and modify the simulation in real time based on students' interventions, making each simulation unique.

Feedback Mechanism: Upon completion of the simulation, students can receive feedback. This helps them identify areas of strength and weakness and promotes reflective practice.

Safety and Repeatability: Students can practice various procedures, from basic care to advanced cardiac life support, multiple times until they feel confident, without the fear of harming a real patient.

Scenario Diversity: The manikins can be programmed to represent patients of various ages, backgrounds, and medical histories, allowing for a comprehensive training experience.

Key Features and Advantages of Immersive Virtual Reality

Risk-Free Learning Environment: VR provides nursing students with a safe platform where they can immerse themselves in realistic cardiac scenarios. This environment allows them to make mistakes, learn from them, and refine their skills without any real-world repercussions.

Preparation for Next Gen NCLEX & Clinical Practice: VR's dynamic and interactive nature is in line with the evolving standards of nursing examinations, INACSL HSSOBP, and the Next Gen NCLEX (NGN) Exam. By immersing themselves in VR scenarios, students are better equipped to tackle situational judgment tests and new question formats.

Simulation helps learners prepare for the NCLEX because it is that standardized patient, that standardized environment.

Heightened Realism: One of the standout benefits of VR is its ability to create a deeply realistic and immersive experience. This vivid realism means that students are exposed to scenarios that very closely mimic real-world cardiac emergencies, complete with the accompanying stresses and pressures, thus preparing them for actual clinical settings.

Fully Customizable Scenarios: UbiSim comes equipped with an Intuitive Editor, allowing educators to tailor scenarios according to specific learning objectives in their curriculum. This customization ensures that students have scenarios tailored to their learning needs.

Enhanced Interdisciplinary Collaboration: Virtual reality can facilitate scenarios where nursing students can work alongside virtual colleagues. This collaborative approach mirrors real-world situations, teaching students the importance of teamwork and communication in complex cardiac care settings.

In UbiSim’s platform, students can not only call providers, but they can also work alongside other students in multiplayer mode in the same hospital room.

UbiSim’s Cardiac Scenario

One of UbiSim’s cardiac scenarios is with a patient named Earl Jenkins,  a 71-year-old male who arrived at the emergency department 20 minutes prior with complaints of dyspnea, fatigue, leg edema, and a 10-pound increase in weight in the last week. 

The learning objectives for nursing students are:

  1. Implement a focused assessment for a patient with a heart failure exacerbation
  2. Interpret assessment findings and critical lab values
  3. Prioritize nursing interventions for a patient with a heart failure exacerbation
  4. Communicate effectively with the patient, family, and healthcare team

Image of man and hospital bed.


With heart disease holding its grip as a leading cause of death, it's paramount that our training methods for nurses are not only comprehensive but also reflective of real-world scenarios. Tools like high-fidelity manikins and platforms like UbiSim's immersive virtual reality are paving the way for a future where nurses are well-prepared, confident, and highly adept at handling cardiac emergencies. 

Discover UbiSim's comprehensive cardiac scenarios and witness firsthand the transformation in your student's learning experiences.

Interested in trying UbiSim in your healthcare institution?
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Ginelle Testa
UbiSim Story Teller

As an integral center of UbiSim's content team, Ginelle pens stories on the rapidly changing landscape of VR in nursing simulation. Ginelle is committed to elevating the voices of practicing nurses, nurse educators, and program leaders who are making a difference.

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