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May 1, 2023

Mental Health Nursing Simulation Scenarios: Developing Clinical Judgment


Ginelle Testa
UbiSim Story Teller

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Discover how mental health nursing simulation scenarios are revolutionizing nursing education, fostering empathy, and equipping future nurses with the clinical judgment skills they need to make a difference in patients' lives.

UbiSim offers mental health nursing simulation scenarios that are carefully designed, controlled learning experiences replicating real-world clinical situations and patient encounters, allowing nursing learners to practice their skills in a safe, low-risk environment. These scenarios aim to bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and clinical practice, providing them with opportunities to apply their learning in realistic situations that resemble actual mental health care settings.

Developing clinical judgment with mental health nursing scenarios

Mental health nursing simulation scenarios offer significant benefits for nursing learners by enhancing their clinical judgment skills. By incorporating the six steps of clinical judgment in the learning process, these simulations provide a structured framework for students to develop their critical thinking, decision-making, and problem-solving abilities. Here's how mental health simulations benefit each step of the clinical judgment process:

1. Recognize Cues

In mental health nursing simulation scenarios, students practice recognizing cues and identifying relevant information from patient presentations. This helps them learn to filter out unnecessary details and focus on what matters most in healthcare, which is essential for developing strong clinical judgment skills.

2. Analyze Cues

As students progress through the simulation scenarios, they are required to analyze the recognized cues and make connections to the patient's clinical presentation. This process helps them develop their analytical skills and enhances their ability to interpret patient data, contributing to better clinical judgment.

In UbiSim’s immersive VR scenario: Santiago Ramos is an 8-year-old male presenting to the clinic for a follow up appointment after a diagnosis of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). He was diagnosed two months ago with primarily inattentive type ADHD and was started on methylphenidate. Today, he is being evaluated for the effectiveness of medication. His mother, Leanna, has accompanied him to the appointment and has some concerns about the medication. 

Nurse learners can assess vital signs on the patient presenting to the Pediatric Behavioral Health and Wellness Clinic. They can also screen for symptoms of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and associated symptoms of treatments.

3. Prioritize Hypotheses

During mental health nursing simulations, students learn to prioritize hypotheses by identifying the most likely explanations for a patient's condition. This prioritization guides the patient's care plan and helps students develop a structured approach to clinical decision-making, which is crucial for effective clinical judgment.

4. Generate Solutions

Mental health nursing simulation scenarios challenge students to generate solutions and identify priority interventions based on their analyses and hypotheses. By working through this process in a controlled environment, students can practice their problem-solving skills and learn to develop appropriate, evidence-based care plans.

In UbiSim’s immersive VR scenario: Ms. Angela Harrison is a 26-year-old female presenting to the mental health clinic with a chief complaint of "feeling very sad" for the past 3 months. She usually enjoys spending time with friends but has not felt like socializing lately. 

Nurse learners can generate solutions by identifying that they need to present a Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9). 

5. Take Action

In mental health nursing simulations, students are challenged to take actions that address the highest patient priorities. This hands-on experience helps them develop confidence in their decision-making abilities and enhances their competence in implementing patient-centered interventions, both of which are essential for strong clinical judgment.

In UbiSim’s immersive VR scenario: Mr. Brandon Daniels is a 49-year-old male presenting to the mental health clinic with a chief complaint of "feeling anxious" for the past six months. His wife drove him to the emergency department yesterday because he was having palpitations, restlessness, insomnia, fatigue, and could not concentrate. He received a full cardiac workup, including an EKG, labs with cardiac enzymes, a thyroid panel, and a chest x-ray. All results were within normal limits. Mr. Daniels was diagnosed with anxiety. He was given lorazepam 1 mg PO with a therapeutic response.

Nursing learners can take action by utilizing appropriate communication techniques to create a therapeutic environment for a patient experiencing anxiety and administering the Generalized Anxiety Disorder 7-Item (GAD-7) questionnaire.

6. Evaluate Outcomes

Mental health nursing simulation scenarios provide opportunities for students to evaluate outcomes and determine the effectiveness of their actions. They can compare their observations against expected outcomes to determine if the patient is improving or declining and decide if more interventions are needed to address their needs. This process of evaluation and reflection is crucial for developing clinical judgment skills, as it promotes continuous learning and improvement.


Mental health nursing simulation scenarios play a critical role in preparing nursing students for the complexities and challenges of real-world mental health care. By incorporating these safe, immersive VR scenarios into their curricula, nursing educators can help students develop essential clinical judgment skills, including critical thinking, decision-making, problem-solving, and reflective practice.

Discover the power of UbiSim's immersive and interactive mental health nursing simulation scenarios. Check out our webinar on clinical judgment and learn how you can enhance your nursing curriculum, foster clinical judgment skills, and empower your students to make a difference in the lives of those living with mental health conditions. 
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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