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September 18, 2023

Why Is High-Fidelity and Realism So Important in Nursing Simulation?

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Ginelle Testa
UbiSim Story Teller

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Imagine stepping into a virtual world that mirrors the intricate challenges of patient care, enabling nurses to master their craft without ever risking a real human life. High-fidelity and realism in nursing simulation are changing the face of medical training, bringing lifelike experiences to the forefront of education. But what makes them so invaluable?

High-fidelity and realism, though often used interchangeably in some contexts, denote distinct concepts, especially in the realm of simulations. 

  • High-fidelity refers to the technical sophistication of the simulation. In essence, high-fidelity is about the depth and breadth of features a simulation can provide. For instance, a patient in immersive virtual reality will have a heartbeat, produce respiratory sounds, and even respond to medical treatments.
  • Realism, on the other hand, is about the authenticity or believability of the simulation experience. It focuses on how genuine or lifelike the simulation feels to the participant, irrespective of the technical sophistication. 

The diagram below shows the connection between simulation, fidelity, and realism and how they engage students.

Using state-of-the-art technology, such as immersive virtual reality, these methods promise not only mastery of skills but also a deepened understanding of patient care. Dive in as we unravel the intricacies of why they’re so important in nursing education. 

Reasons High-Fidelity Realism is Important in Nursing Simulation

1. Skill Development

Nursing students and practicing nurses need to develop and refine their clinical skills in a safe and controlled environment before working with real patients. High-fidelity simulations provide a realistic setting to practice and master these skills.

The findings of a 2023 research study revealed: “the HFS [high-fidelity simulation] exposure in addition to clinical training enhanced the students' OSCE [objective structured clinical examination] performance.”

With UbiSim, an immersive virtual reality platform built just for nursing, learners can repeatedly perform procedures, such as administering medication or administering a blood product to the patient via an infusion pump, until they achieve mastery.

2. Balance Psychological Safety with Emotional Challenges

Nursing simulation, especially when using immersive virtual reality platforms like UbiSim, strikes a delicate balance between creating a psychologically safe learning environment and introducing the emotional challenges inherent in patient care. These simulations allow nursing students and nurses to experience the stress, pressure, and emotional aspects of healthcare without real patients being directly affected. 

3 Confidence Building

High-fidelity simulations can help build confidence in nursing students and novice nurses. By experiencing lifelike scenarios, learners become more comfortable with various clinical situations, which can translate to improved confidence when they encounter similar situations in actual patient care.

4. Clinical Judgment and Decision-Making

Realistic simulations challenge learners to think critically and make decisions in complex clinical scenarios. The closer the simulation mirrors real-life situations, the better nurses can develop their ability to assess, analyze, and respond to patient needs.

A meta-analysis found, “High-fidelity simulation (HFS) can more effectively cultivate knowledge, skills, collaboration, caring, and learning interest of undergraduate nursing students.”

5. Error Reduction

Mistakes in healthcare can have serious consequences. High-fidelity simulations allow learners to make and learn from errors in a controlled environment, reducing the likelihood of making the same mistakes when caring for real patients. 

Research supports this:“Simulation training in the medical field has become increasingly accepted as an effective training method to address the issue of medical errors.”

6. Familiarity with Equipment and Technology

Nursing simulations often include high-tech medical equipment and technology. Learning to use these tools in a realistic setting ensures that nurses are proficient when they encounter them in clinical practice. An example of technology in UbiSim is Electronic health records (EHR).

7. Ethical and Cultural Considerations

Simulations can incorporate ethical dilemmas and cultural sensitivity, helping nurses navigate complex issues and providing a deeper understanding of the ethical and cultural dimensions of patient care.

In UbiSim’s 1.11+ release, two new diverse cases are offered: LGBQTIA+ patients, one with MPox and one with HIV and shingles. Nurse learners have to navigate both the medical and cultural considerations when working with these patients. 

8. Exposure to Rare or Uncommon Cases

In a clinical setting, nurses may encounter rare or uncommon medical conditions infrequently. High-fidelity simulations can expose nurses to these situations, ensuring they are prepared to respond appropriately if such cases arise.

UbiSim's versatility enables nursing learners to explore a wide range of clinical cases, even enabling nurse educators to create their own scenarios with our Intuitive Editor. Learners can face High Acuity Low Occurrence (HALO) such as: 

  • Anaphylaxis
  • Myocardial infarction
  • Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA)
  • Opioid toxicity
  • Transfusion reaction

Conclusion

The significance of high-fidelity and realism in nursing simulation transcends mere skill acquisition. It's about preparing a new generation of nurses – equipped with a holistic skill set, anchored in confidence, and driven by a deep-seated understanding of their role in patient care. In an ever-evolving medical landscape, these simulations are not just beneficial; they are indispensable.

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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