August 27, 2014 - A comprehensive simulation study by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) has concluded that substituting high quality simulation experiences for up to half of traditional clinical hours produces comparable educational outcomes to nursing students and produces new graduates that are ready for clinical practice.
These findings were part of the results recently released from “The NCSBN National Simulation Study: A Longitudinal, Randomized, Controlled Study Replacing Clinical Hours with Simulation in Prelicensure Nursing Education.”
The largest and most comprehensive research to date examining the use of simulation in the prelicensure nursing curriculum, this longitudinal study included incoming nursing students from 10 prelicensure programs across the United States who were randomized to one of three study groups:
• Control group (traditional clinical where up to 10 percent of clinical time was allowed in simulation)
• 25 percent simulation in place of traditional clinical hours
• 50 percent simulation in place of traditional clinical hours
The study began in the 2011 fall semester with the first clinical nursing course and continued throughout the core clinical courses to graduation in May 2013. Students were assessed on clinical competency and nursing knowledge. They provided ratings on how well they perceived their learning needs were met in both the clinical and simulation environments. A total of 666 students completed the study requirements at the time of graduation.
It was found that up to 50 percent simulation was effectively substituted for traditional clinical experience in all core courses across the prelicensure nursing curriculum. Additionally, the use of up to 50 percent simulation did not affect NCLEX pass rates.
Study participants were also followed into their first six months of clinical practice. The study found that there were no meaningful differences between the groups in critical thinking, clinical competency and overall readiness for practice as rated by managers at six weeks, three months and six months after working in a clinical position.
The full report is available as a supplement to the Journal of Nursing Regulation (JNR) and can be accessed on the NCSBN website.