Student Perceptions of Simulation: A Qualitative Program Evaluation

Thursday, July 14, 2011: 8:30 AM

Linda L. Hansen-Kyle, PhD, RN, CCM1
Anna Hefner, RN, MSN, MaEd, CPNP2
Melinda Dicken, MSN, RN, CNS2
Cheryl Boyd, MSN, RN, APRN-CNS3
Patricia Perry, MSN, RN-BC, CNS, OCN2
Beth Moore, MSN, PNP, RN2
(1)Nursing, Azusa Pacific University, San Diego Campus, San Diego, CA
(2)School of Nursing, Azusa Pacific University, Azusa, CA
(3)Azusa Pacific University, Azusa, CA

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to discuss prelicensure nursing studentsí perceptions of simulation.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to explore student perspectives of self awareness, teamwork, knowledge and clinical reasoning.


The aim of this study was to qualitatively evaluate the effectiveness of simulation from a student perspective. This was part of a larger qualitative and quantitative program evaluation.


Clinical competence is the foundation for new nurses to transition smoothly from carefully-controlled educational experiences to a fast-paced clinical world of increasing patient complexity with a focus on improved quality of care. This transition requires a strong sense of self, emotional intelligence, clinical reasoning, and teamwork.  Sinclair and Ferguson (2009) and others have found that simulation allows students to apply previous knowledge; increase competence through task or skill training; and develop higher-level skills related to communication, decision making, and teamwork.


 A sample of 94 students from a prelicensure nursing program anonymously completed an open-ended questionnaire. A descriptive focus and emergent design was utilized. Students were informed of the nature of the evaluation and participation was voluntary. Open-ended questions were developed by faculty and content experts to elaborate the individual’s story of their simulation experience. Analysis of the data through coding for themes and dimensions in the tradition of Corbin and Strauss were utilized. The questionnaire responses were coded by several researchers and major recurring themes were grouped with relationships identified. Theoretical statements based on the thematic discoveries were developed.


 Students identified four major thematic threads that included increased self-awareness, teamwork, knowledge and skills base, and clinical reasoning. Students indicated the simulation scenarios were an important and necessary component of their education that helped them transition smoothly to clinical practice. Students felt they would benefit from additional simulation included in their program.


 Simulation adds an important element to basic prelicensure education. Students embrace and learn from simulation; feeling more confident in their skill set, clinical reasoning, and ability to function as a member of the healthcare team.