Increasing the use of simulation is a goal of our department. Over the next three days I am part of a group of faculty and staff that is receiving training from SIM-one. Although I have developed some online simulations in H5P, my experience with other forms of simulation is limited. It has been about 10 years since I have taught in the lab setting. However, in the future I am likely to be doing simulation during lab classes. Below are a few notes from the day.


Participating in a simulation as a student is a useful empathy building exercise for educators. I have not yet worked with in-lab simulations but others described how intimidating it can be, how professionals can freeze and the fear of judgement/failure that can come with it.

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We talked about the need to make students feel safe and supported in failure. Simulation offers participants a safe place to try things, fail and learn from that failure. Hopefully I can be on the participant side of some in-lab simulations soon as I would like to try it before implementing or teaching it.

Equipment and Forms of Simulation

The equipment you need depends on the outcome. There are a wide variety of approaches to simulation. Using actors, mannequins, technology or a combination of these approaches may be appropriate depending on the outcome.

Simulation may be expensive or not, but resources and time are needed. Careful thought needs to be put into how much time and money in order to get the best return on your investment of time and money.

Scenario Ideas

Simulation can be used to teach or assess many things. Below are just a few ideas from a quick brainstorming session.

  • Health Assessment – both for teaching and evaluation.
  • More family visits – online. Students write a paper on it afterwards.
  • Therapeutic communication – both for teaching and evaluation. Traditionally this requires actors. What ways can we do other forms of simulation?
  • Teaching oral assessment.
  • How to respond to emergencies.


Clear and concise directions are needed for a simulation. Imagine walking into a room and feeling confused because you are unsure what to do. Would you be nervous if you felt like you were being evaluated in that situation.


As the person creating and delivering simulations one needs to fulfill a variety of roles from production, research, technician, education, writer, director, tester, facilitator and more.

Image by 3dman_eu on Pixabay


Creating a safe environment for students to participate in simulation can be challenging. To me, safety involves feeling able to make mistakes without a fear of judgement. As a educator, we can set up well-planned scenarios and agreements with our students. Creating a truly judgement-free zone requires that trust is built over time. Reminding students of ground rules and the importance of confidentiality is helpful. Consistency is needed in how we respond to students to build that trust over time.


The goal is to get students highly engaged in scenarios. We work to get our students to be immersed in the experience, which requires some level of authenticity. However, authenticity is in the mind to some degree.

The Coaching Model

Between the comfort zone and the panic zone is the learning zone. How can we keep students in the learning zone? Prompts and cues can be built into the simulation to help guide students.

Thank you

I would like to thank Karl Weiss and his co-facilitator for sharing their experiences with us. It was a pleasure being part of the SIM-one Essentials and Briefing, Debriefing course held on February 25-27, 2019 at Cambrian College (Click here). I look forward to exploring simulation in more depth in the future.


Laura Killam is an experienced nursing educator from Northern Ontario with a keen interest in improving student learning through innovation. For more information please visit


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