So, you’ve started nursing school or you are about to and the reality of the situation is creeping into your consciousness.
I walked through the halls past the health sciences labs where I saw anatomically correct mannequins, and I was overwhelmed with fear. Maybe you just learned about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and realized becoming a self-actualized nurse who doesn’t kill people accidentally every day is going to be more of a challenge than you expected. You need a binder with tabs, and you need office supplies, a reliable computer, paper, ink, great pens and pencils. Whether you are a nursing student, brand new to the workforce, or a seasoned nurse, you are bound to encounter a form of simulation in your career. But first, a confession: I’m writing this series because few things evoked more fear in my mind than seeing the dreaded "S" word on my calendar.
Ironically, I now facilitate simulation activities and I can’t decide which role is more stressful: participating, or watching the monitor. Because it is becoming more common, and I am certain there are others out there who would rather hide in a bathroom stall than participate, I am hoping to shed some light on what simulation is.
In simulation, a scenario or scripted situation is created around something that you might encounter as a nurse (or whatever profession is participating). Although we tend to think of simulation as a nursing school experience, don’t be surprised if you show up and find a larger pool of participants! Despite feeling like you are surely going to have a myocardial infarction, no one dies in simulation—at least, not for real.
Simulation scenarios can take place anywhere: a desert (such as with military training), a parking lot (mass casualty simulation), a trauma bay, or a simulation center.
Despite the large variety of settings, scenarios, and participants, the purpose of simulation is all the same.


The point is it needs to be as real as possible and you want your students to kill their patients there and not in the field. Now is not the time to move, get married, pregnant or divorced (if you can help it), start a new hobby, invest in a big project, etc.
Otherwise, you run the risk of being disappointed in your spouse, feeling unsupported and alone. I always thought it would be interesting to do an experiment hooking up heart monitors to every participant in the room, just to see how many others were as stressed out about being there as I was. Please remember throughout this series that while I have participated in and facilitated simulation, I am not a simulation expert, nor do I claim to be. If you consider all of the various professions and team members that nurses interact with in real life, it only makes sense to train with those team members. This is your time and your goals require that you focus on yourself and your efforts to get through school. Or are you an experienced nurse who has been hearing rumors about being sent to simulation courses at your facility? I’d like to help you bring an intimidating situation down to a manageable one and gather feedback from you about your methodologies to achieve the same result. He or she makes decisions, interacts with others, and chooses their actions just as they would in a real-life situation.
Not only could you find yourself in a simulation experience with other nurses, there could be students or staff from many other fields (medicine, pharmacy, physical therapy, and the like). In such a high stakes environment, wouldn’t we rather make a mistake on a dummy than on a real patient?
It continues to be proven, day after day, that new nurses and other health professionals derive great benefit from using patient simulation training -- and real-life patients reap the rewards as well with better outcomes.


The top 5 things you need to know to make it through nursing school assuming you didn’t get scared away by the mannequins.
You won’t survive with a crappy computer that dies every other day and especially the night before a paper is due.
When the oxygen mask pops down in an airplane the instructions are to first place the mask on yourself, THEN help others.
Scenarios can be built around events that might rarely happen, but when they do, they require quick, precise actions. Keep up the good work in spreading the good news about developments in improving the education of health practitioners.
Create a naming convention that makes the notes easy to find and reference then file that stuff in the right place.
Let them know now that you will be a little busy studying and will need their help to get through this, that you won’t be as available to them, that you can’t help like you once did. Without training, reaction to these situations may be delayed or non-existent due to lack of knowledge. Find a local coffee shop, study hall or library (yes, they still make libraries) and study with these human beings on the same path as you or just hang out and discuss the last clinical or the microbiology lecture that went over your head. It will be the healthiest thing you do and if they love you they will recognize that you are simply putting your own oxygen mask on first. Chances are someone there will be able to help you more than the internet, Facebook or your clueless spouse.



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