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October 20, 2023

The Value of Low Fidelity Simulation & High Fidelity Simulation in Nursing Training


Ginelle Testa
UbiSim Story Teller

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How do budding nurses transition from textbook knowledge to hands-on expertise? Enter the world of nursing simulations, where low and high fidelity models play pivotal roles. Simulation labs are where nurses can take what they’re learning in the classroom and apply it so they’re ready for clinicals, the Next Gen NCLEX (NGN) Exam, and practice in the real world. 

Why choose just one simulation or the other? Effective simulation labs have both options: low fidelity, such as static manikins, and high fidelity, such as immersive virtual reality

Let’s dive into each.

Low Fidelity Simulation

Low fidelity simulation encompasses a range of simulation activities that provide simplistic, often static, representations of real-world situations. Some studies have shown that nursing students have more negative perceptions of low-fidelity simulations, but they have their place in practice. These simulations focus on specific aspects or skills, and their goal is to build knowledge

Examples of low fidelity simulation tools include:

  • Static manikins/task trainers: These are basic models of the human body or body parts. They are primarily used for practicing foundational skills such as CPR, wound dressing, intubation, or basic patient positioning.
  • Role-playing: In this method, learners take on specific roles and enact scenarios. It helps in understanding patient-provider interactions, communication skills, and decision-making processes.
  • Tabletop exercises: These are often used for disaster training or organizational drills where learners move pieces or make decisions based on a presented scenario. A study found that tabletop exercises effectively link education to practice.

Benefits of low fidelity simulation:

  • Easily Accessible: The simplicity means it's widely available and can be utilized in various settings, from traditional classrooms to basic clinical setups, without the need for specialized equipment.
  • Psychomotor Skill Acquisition: By allowing repetitive practice on basic manikins or models, low fidelity simulation ensures muscle memory development and fine-tuning of motor actions such as intravenous insertion.
  • Ability to Isolate Tasks: By providing a simplified representation of real-world situations, low fidelity simulation ensures that learners can practice and perfect one skill or procedure without distractions. 
  • Establish Base Knowledge: Low fidelity simulation lays the foundational knowledge and skills in a simplified environment, ensuring that learners grasp essential concepts and practices first. This foundational base ensures that when transitioning to high fidelity simulation, learners are better equipped to handle increased complexity.

High Fidelity Simulation

A high fidelity simulation in nursing refers to a realistic and immersive training method that closely mimics real-life patient scenarios. Studies have shown that nursing students have a more positive perception of high fidelity simulations. They build clinical judgment and performance.

Examples of high fidelity simulation tools include:

  • Computerized manikins: Computerized manikins are lifelike models that can replicate a range of human physiological responses, from heartbeats to vocal sounds. They provide a hands-on experience for learners, allowing them to practice medical interventions in a controlled yet realistic environment.
  • Immersive virtual reality: Immersive virtual reality (VR) places learners in a digitally created, interactive environment where they can navigate and perform tasks as if in a real clinical setting. This technology offers a high level of realism, enabling users to experience and respond to various medical scenarios in a safe, simulated space. 

“They really feel like they learn more from UbiSim than they do from the manikins, which at first I thought was odd. But, I think the more that we've used UbiSim over time, we can see that it really bridges that clinical judgment." - Dr. Tina Barbour-Taylor, University of West Florida School of Nursin

UbiSim is an immersive virtual reality platform built just for nursing by nurse educators.

  • Computer-based 2D simulations: Computer-based 2D simulations provide learners with interactive scenarios on a two-dimensional platform, often through software or web applications. While they may lack the immersive depth of VR, they offer valuable opportunities for decision-making and problem-solving in various clinical situations.

Benefits of high fidelity simulation:

  • Realism and Immersion: High fidelity simulation closely replicates real-world clinical scenarios, allowing learners to experience and respond to situations as they would in actual practice. This immersion enhances the depth of learning and prepares them for real-life challenges.
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  • Safe Learning Environment: Learners can practice complex and high-risk procedures without the fear of causing harm. Mistakes become valuable learning opportunities, not adverse events.
  • Advanced Skill Development: The interactive nature of high fidelity simulation helps learners refine both technical and soft skills. It facilitates the development of critical thinking, decision-making, and team collaboration in clinical situations.
  • Feedback and Debriefing: High fidelity simulations often come with real-time feedback mechanisms and post-scenario debriefing. This immediate and reflective feedback aids in recognizing areas of improvement and reinforcing correct practices


The journey from novice to proficient nurse is marked by a continuous cycle of learning, practicing, and refining skills. In this transformative process, both low fidelity and high fidelity simulations emerge as invaluable assets. While low fidelity simulations provide a foundational grasp of essential skills and concepts, high fidelity simulations elevate this learning, mirroring the unpredictability and complexity of real-life clinical settings. 

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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