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September 22, 2023

Choosing Wisely: Selecting the Right Simulation Modality for Nursing Training


Ginelle Testa
UbiSim Story Teller

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In a makeshift hospital room, a nursing student feels the steady pulse of a manikin, hears its simulated breath, and watches its pupils react. Another student, with a VR headset on, navigates a virtual ward, attending to a patient with HIV and shingles. These aren't scenes from a sci-fi movie but the transformative reality of nursing education. 

With a plethora of simulation modalities now available, the question arises: Which ones are the perfect fit for the budding nurses in your program? If budget allows, using several of these modalities is beneficial in nursing education because many complement one another, such as manikins and immersive virtual reality. Let’s delve deeper into some options that may help a Director of Simulation or a Simulation Coordinator!

Modalities for Nursing Education Training

1. High-fidelity manikins

High-fidelity devices can emulate human physiological responses such as breathing, heartbeats, and pupil dilation. As a result, they can simulate a myriad of medical emergencies, allowing nursing students to practice their skills in a setting that mimics real-life conditions. The ability to recreate a diverse range of scenarios, from cardiac arrests to seizures, makes them invaluable for advanced nursing training. Manikin-based simulations are used extensively in nursing education and have been shown to support the development of professional identity, communication, and collaborative nursing skills.

2. Low-fidelity manikins

While they might not have the bells and whistles of the high-fidelity versions, low-fidelity manikins serve a fundamental role in nursing education. They are specifically designed to help students grasp basic nursing procedures, from simple wound dressings to CPR techniques. Given their simplicity, they are typically more robust and less maintenance-intensive than high-fidelity manikins. Their ease of use makes them a staple in many nursing schools, particularly for introductory courses where foundational skills are emphasized.

3. UbiSim's Immersive Virtual Reality (VR)

Donning a VR headset with haptic controllers in hand transports nursing students into remarkably realistic clinical realms with crying babies and adult patients with respiratory issues. This deep immersion offers a comprehensive training experience, preparing students for examinations like the Next Gen NCLEX and practical clinical sessions. 

UbiSim's adaptive platform, built just for nurse learners, allows for custom-tailored simulations, ensuring alignment with distinct learning goals. A recent systematic review underscores immersive virtual reality’s efficacy in nursing education, noting marked improvements in learning outcomes and cognitive performance.

4. Computer-Based 2D Simulations

With the advent of technology, computer-based 2D simulations have emerged as a versatile training tool. These platforms often present students with a series of clinical challenges or decision-making scenarios in a virtual environment. While they might not offer the hands-on experience of a manikin or the realistic immersion of virtual reality, they are excellent for honing critical thinking and decision-making skills.

5. Standardized Patients (Real Actors)

Standardized patients—trained actors who simulate specific medical conditions or symptoms—offer an opportunity for students to practice their interpersonal and clinical skills. This method places a premium on communication, empathy, and patient-provider dynamics. It offers a unique challenge, as human responses can be unpredictable, training students to think on their feet and adapt to the situation.


The evolution of nursing education now boasts a diverse array of simulation modalities, each with its unique benefits, from high-fidelity manikins replicating human responses to immersive VR settings. The challenge lies in selecting the right tool or combination for specific learning needs. Balancing budget and resources, the ultimate aim is to equip nursing students with the most realistic and impactful training experience, preparing them for real-world healthcare challenges.

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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