School of Nursing

School retools for pandemic

Retooling clinical education with virtual simulations

Read the full article in the Summer 2020 Connections newsletter

Winter term was ending, spring break was approaching, and hospitals were preparing to
lock their doors to all but COVID-19 and emergency cases. Educators faced a big dilemma:
how to keep students’ clinical education rolling without access to live patients.
Nickolaus Miehl, Ph.D., R.N., clinical assistant professor and simulation coordinator on
the Monmouth campus, tells how simulation faculty across the state quickly coalesced to
evaluate and select simulation software, create faculty and student orientation materials and
move students into a virtual clinical environment – all in three frenzied weeks.
When students returned spring term, they spent the first week taking a newly developed online
COVID-19 module, providing a strong context of why the school had to switch to
virtual clinicals, according to Miehl. Faculty then chose specific courses to emulate
clinical scenarios.

The platform, vSim, presents students with one to two cases a week. The patient on
the screen is animated, almost like a videogame. Students see medical orders for the
patient and make assessments and interventions. Simulation faculty on each campus debrief students
weekly and walk them through some of their judgments.

“Faculty appreciated the learning it brought to students and noticed how vSim helped students
with clinical reasoning, prep for state boards and the opportunity to go back in for more practice. If
something wasn’t working, faculty responded well and made adjustments,” he said.

“We went to virtual learning spring term because we had to,” Miehl said. “Now we’re diving into
this experience from vSim and can see it continuing, maybe in a classroom setting as an adjunct to
clinical experience. This is a scalable option that we’re assessing.”

vSim screenshot