Virtual simulation in healthcare education: a multi-professional, pan-Canadian evaluation

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Verkuyl, Margaret
Violato, Efrem
Harder, Nicole
Southam, Theresa
Lavoie-Tremblay, Mélanie
Goldsworthy, Sandra
Ellis, Wendy
Campbell, Suzanne H.
Atack, Lynda
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Abstract Background As we experience a shortage of healthcare providers in Canada, it has become increasingly challenging for healthcare educators to secure quality clinical placements. We evaluated the impact of virtual simulations created for the virtual work-integrated learning (Virtu-WIL) program, a pan-Canadian project designed to develop, test, and offer virtual simulations to enrich healthcare clinical education in Canada. Evaluation was important since the virtual simulations are freely available through creative commons licensing, to the global healthcare community. Methods Students self-reported their experiences with the virtual simulations and the impact on their readiness for practice using a survey that included validated subscales. Open-ended items were included to provide insight into the students’ experiences. Results The evaluation included 1715 Nursing, Paramedicine and Medical Laboratory students enrolled in the Virtu-WIL program from 18 post-secondary universities, colleges, and institutions. Results showed most students found the virtual simulations engaging helped them learn and prepare for clinical practice. A key finding was that it is not sufficient to simply add virtual simulations to curriculum, careful planning and applying simulation pedagogy are essential. Conclusion Virtual simulation experiences are increasingly being used in healthcare education. Results from this rigorous, large-scale evaluation identified ways to enhance the quality of these experiences to increase learning and to potentially decrease the number of hours healthcare students need in clinical practice to meet professional competencies. Further research is needed regarding many aspects of virtual simulations and, in particular, curriculum integration and the timing or sequencing of virtual simulations to best prepare students for practice.
Highlights • We investigated the effectiveness of virtual simulation in post-secondary healthcare education • This is one of the first evaluations to include a national sample of post-secondary students and virtual simulation. • Virtual simulation, when sound pedagogy and curriculum planning are applied, can be an engaging and effective way for students to prepare for clinical practice.
Advances in Simulation. 2024 Jan 10;9(1):3