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March 5, 2024

6 Ways to Teach Diabetes to Nursing Students


Ginelle Testa
UbiSim Story Teller

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Diabetes, a chronic condition affecting approximately 8% of the global population, and nearly 30% of Americans age 65 or older, is something that nurses will often encounter. For nursing students, learning the complexities of diabetes care is crucial, as they are on the front lines of patient interaction and management. 

Effective teaching strategies are essential to bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical skills. Here are six active learning approaches to teaching diabetes to nursing students, enhancing their learning experience, and preparing them for real-world challenges.

1. Low-Fidelity Simulations

These simulations involve the use of basic tools and resources to mimic real-life scenarios, providing students with a hands-on learning experience that enhances their understanding of how to manage diabetes in clinical settings. By incorporating low-fidelity simulations into their education, nursing students can practice assessing blood sugar levels, administering insulin, and responding to low blood glucose episodes in a controlled environment. 

Realityworks Diabetes Education Kit is an example.

2. Gamification Techniques

Gamification introduces the elements of game playing, such as scoring points, competing with others, and following rules, into the educational process to enhance engagement and motivation. By incorporating gamification in diabetes education, complex concepts can be simplified, making learning both fun and effective. 

There's a game called “Candy Gland” that nurse educators can use. “This educational game effectively improved student knowledge and confidence in diabetes diagnosis, pharmacology, and management in an engaging, unique session.” 

3. Immersive Virtual Reality (VR) Tools

Leveraging immersive VR tools offers nursing students a unique opportunity to step into the shoes of a nurse. UbiSim is a VR platform built just for nurses by nurse educators. Through any of the four diabetes simulations in the UbiSim catalog, students can experience the management of diabetes in a controlled yet realistic environment. They can make mistakes in VR so that they don't make them in a clinical setting. 

Utilizing VR even helps prepare learners for the Next Gen NCLEX by boosting their clinical judgment skills. They have to decide what to do next, such as administering insulin or assuring the stressed patient that they'll be okay. VR is a great way to practice handling difficult conversations, such as discussing lifestyle changes or the importance of adherence to treatment plans.

Request a demo of UbiSim today to help your nurse learners step into the shoes of a real nurse!
Image of a user in UbiSim virtual reality working with a patient.

4. Role-Playing Scenarios

Role-playing is a dynamic teaching strategy that allows nursing students to practice communication, clinical decision-making, and patient education in a safe and supportive environment. By taking on roles such as the nurse, patient, or family member, students can explore different perspectives on diabetes management. 

This approach helps students develop empathy and improve their ability to educate and support patients in managing their diabetes. 

5. Case Studies

Case studies are an effective way to connect theoretical knowledge with clinical practice. By analyzing real scenarios, students can apply their learning to diagnose, manage, and provide holistic care to patients with diabetes. 

This method encourages critical thinking, clinical reasoning, and evidence-based practice. Case studies can be presented in various formats, such as written documents, videos, or interactive discussions, providing a comprehensive understanding of the challenges and complexities involved in diabetes care.

6. Connecting Topics to Real-world Scenarios

Integrating real-world scenarios into the curriculum ensures that nursing students can relate theoretical knowledge to practical applications. This can be achieved through guest lectures from diabetes care specialists, or just thinking about a person in their life who has diabetes. 

Such experiences enable students to observe and understand the impact of diabetes on individuals and communities, reinforcing the importance of patient-centered care and public health education. Connecting learning to real-world situations prepares students for the realities of nursing practice and the role they will play in managing and preventing diabetes.

Final Thoughts

Educating nursing students on diabetes through innovative teaching strategies is vital in preparing them for the complexities of healthcare delivery. Educators can enhance active learning experiences, foster critical thinking, and equip students with the skills necessary to provide exceptional care to patients with diabetes. These approaches not only improve knowledge and practical skills but also emphasize the importance of empathy, communication, and patient education in managing chronic conditions like diabetes.

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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