Methods: A descriptive, post-test design was employed to evaluate the self-perceptions of genetic knowledge among nursing students and simulation facilitators following a genetic-based simulation experience. A six question survey examined students’ genetic knowledge after their simulation experience, exploring the understanding of the genetic component (SCA/SCD); ability to provide the patient and family with information about SCA/SCD; level of understanding of SCA/SCD appropriate to provide effective and efficient nursing care with appropriate nursing interventions; critical thinking skills about providing genetic information to a patient; clinical judgment about providing genetic information to a patient and asked if this scenario enhanced their overall ability to integrate genetics into their knowledge base of nursing and nursing care. Participants could respond to each question by noting “Strongly agree”, “Agree”, “Disagree” or “Strongly Disagree”. Participants were asked to respond to “How can this simulation integrating genetics be improved to further enhance your overall knowledge?” Data were coded and entered into an SPSS database. Descriptive statistics including frequencies and percentages were utilized for demographic while contingency table analysis was used to summarize the categorical perception data. Per question response rate was 100%. Qualitative data was summarized by the most common themes.
Results: Majority of students (88.6%; mean=1.42) agreed that their understanding of the genetic component of SCA/SCD improved after the simulation; their ability to provide the patient and family with information pertaining to SCA/SCD was satisfactory after the simulation (n=49; mean=1.47); level of understanding of SCA/SCD was appropriate to provide effective and efficient nursing care with appropriate nursing interventions (n=53; mean=1.47); majority agreed that their critical thinking skills (mean=1.42) and clinical judgment (mean=1.45) about providing genetic information improved with this simulation and this scenario enhanced their overall ability to integrate genetics into their knowledge base and nursing care. Comparatively, there was minimal differences noted between junior (pediatric clinical) and senior (adult clinical) to each survey question. All faculty felt that this scenario enhanced their overall ability to integrate genetics into their knowledge base and nursing care.
Conclusions: These pilot findings support integrating a genetic component into simulation to further enhance the genetic knowledge of both students and facilitators. It is imperative that nursing curricula stay abreast of current mandated competencies. Including a genetic component during a simulation experience enhances students’ and nurse educators’ perception of their genetic knowledge base. This evaluation revealed that including a genetic aspect to a simulation experience was not only feasible but was viewed positively by both students and educators. All participants agreed that their genetic knowledge improved after the simulation. With millennial nursing students, it is necessary for nurse educators to provide a variety of learning strategies, engaging students intellectually as well as motivationally. Simulation offers a creative and innovative learning strategy to enhance the genetic knowledge of nursing students. With new knowledge come new responsibilities reflected by the new required competencies. Implementing these competencies into a heavily burdened curriculum requires nurse educators to establish new integrative teaching formats. Simulation prepares students for real-world experiences and as we enter the genetic/genomic era, simulation has an obvious role in expanding and developing these competencies, in a safe and friendly learner-centered environment. By integrating genetics into a simulation, the facilitators’ genetic literacy knowledge base will improve, thus furthering their confidence and ability to assist students to meet these new competencies.