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How to Grow a Nursing Simulation Program

Ginelle Testa | Sep 20, 2023
Ginelle Testa | Sep 20, 2023

Nursing simulation programs are the epitome of where technology and education intersect, providing a groundbreaking approach to training the next generation of nurses. However, building such a program can be a complex task. This article will demystify that process, providing you with a step-by-step guide to growing a state-of-the-art nursing simulation program to include technology like manikins and immersive virtual reality.

1. Gain Internal Support

Before laying the foundation of a nursing simulation program, it's crucial to gain support from key stakeholders such as faculty members, administration, and even students.

Steps to Gain Support

  • Start Small: Pilot small-scale simulations to demonstrate the effectiveness of such training methods.
  • Showcase Benefits: Gather data that proves the value of simulation in nursing education.
  • Create a Proposal: Draft a comprehensive proposal that includes the budget, resource requirements, and long-term benefits to the institution. The total cost of creating a simulation lab can be between $340,000 - $1,390,000. 
  • Engage Key Stakeholders: Present the proposal to administrators, faculty, and any other decision-makers.

2. Identify and Personalize Space

A simulation program requires space for equipment, rooms that mimic real-life healthcare settings, and areas for debriefing.

Tips for Space Management

  • Scout for Space: Look for underutilized spaces that can be transformed into simulation labs.
  • Design Layout: Work with architects and educators to create a space that resembles real-life healthcare settings.
  • Personalize: Add elements like hospital beds, "patients" in the form of manikins , and dedicated spaces for virtual reality use. 

3. Build a Program with the Best Technology

The realism in simulation technology can vary widely, and the more realistic the simulation, the better the training.

Considerations for Choosing Technology

  • Realism: Immersive virtual reality and high-fidelity manikins can simulate a range of conditions and responses.
  • Software: Choose simulation software that allows for variable scenarios, real-time feedback, and performance tracking. UbiSim, a nursing immersive virtual reality platform, provides all of this. 
  • Updates & Support: Ensure that the technology you choose is up-to-date and that there is ample support for troubleshooting and updates.

4. Recruit, Train, and Retain Staff

Simulation programs are only as effective as the people who run them.

Guidelines for Staffing

  • Hire Experienced Staff: Recruit faculty members and technicians who are familiar with simulation programs.
  • Training: Conduct rigorous training programs to ensure everyone is comfortable with the technology and educational objectives.
  • Retention: Offer incentives such as professional development opportunities to keep staff engaged and up-to-date.

5. Track Student Outcomes

For any educational program to be successful, tracking outcomes is critical.

Ways to Measure Outcomes

  • Pre- and Post-Tests: Measure students' skills and knowledge before and after the simulation.
  • Feedback Surveys: Collect feedback from students about their experience.
  • NCLEX Tracking: See how implementing a simulation lab affects Next Gen NCLEX scores.


Building a robust nursing simulation program is an ambitious task that requires strategic planning, investment, and constant evaluation. However, the benefits of producing well-trained, competent nursing professionals make it a worthwhile endeavor. By following these key steps, educational institutions can cultivate a simulation program that benefits not just the students, but also the healthcare community at large.

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