Implementing the Standards of Best Practice: Simulation

By: Tonya Schneidereith and Sabrina Beroz

The International Nursing Association for Clinical Simulation and Learning (INACSL) conference this year was enormous, with many thrilling presentations addressing the various aspects of the Standards of Best Practice: SimulationSM.  There was a four-hour preconference on using the newly revised 2016 Standards, and there were podium presentations on debriefing methods, interprofessional simulations, evaluation, and simulation-based operations. But even with the new, updated version of the Standards, it became clear that there is an ongoing need for education on implementation. You may be wondering why that is so.

Now there are 8: The standards are living documents updated as the science of simulation evolves. The revisions from 2013 removed the numbering associated with each standard and combined “Facilitation” and “Facilitator” into one “Facilitation” standard. We went from nine standards to eight, which you would think would make it easier.  However, with each standard there are major criteria necessary to meet the standard, and there are subcriteria with required elements. Information overload?  For novice educators, trying to remember all of the pieces to each Standard can be overwhelming.

Why it matters: You may have heard an educator or two say, “My learners LOVE coming to sim!” and “As long as I have a scenario for them to use for clinical make-up, learners can come to sim.” While a happy learner is most likely an engaged learner, we wonder: are they getting all of the wonderful, appropriate, and strategically considered lessons best addressed through simulation-based education?

inacsl-international-nursing-association-for-clinical-simulation-learning-2015-the-international-nursing-association-for-clinical-simulation-and-learning-conference-0The standards provide educators, clinicians, and researchers with best practices to design, facilitate, and evaluate simulation experiences. In short, they ensure high quality simulations for optimal learner outcomes. It’s important to remember that the Standards are evidence-based documents, and, just as we stress the importance of including evidence in bedside care, we as educators are also responsible for including evidence in our teaching practices. To know better is to do better, and to ignore the “know” results in ignoring the “better.”

Recognizing that each Standard is based on researched evidence, there are potential consequences associated with not following the Standards. These are readily found in the final paragraph of the Background section for each Standard.  Some of the consequences include inability to achieve learning objectives, weakening learner engagement, uncomfortable debriefing sessions, altered or biased learner performance, and impaired learning opportunities.  No one goes into simulation-based education to inhibit the learner’s experience, so why create a situation that is set up to do so?  Doesn’t it make sense to incorporate the Standards from the very beginning?

Your turn: If you’re reading this blog, you’re already a simulation champion and invested in making the simulation experience the very best for your learners. If you haven’t found the Standards, here is a helpful link to the INACSL website.  You can begin with the glossary to familiarize yourself with the terminology used throughout the documents. Next, read all of the Standards to get a comprehensive view of the current state of best practices.  Finally, implement one Standard that feels most comfortable to you.  With each new simulation, you can try to incorporate an additional Standard.  Before you know it, the Standards will be embedded in all of your simulation practices, and your learners will gain a deeper, more meaningful experience. Ultimately our patients will be the beneficiaries of your efforts! Isn’t that what teaching is all about?


INACSL Standards Committee (2016, December). INACSL standards of best practice: SimulationSM. Clinical Simulation in Nursing, 12(S), S1-S50.


5 thoughts

  1. Great blog, I especially like the no pressure approach by encouraging us to start with one standard at a time. Thanks!

  2. I think it’s important that we, as educators, stress what you wrote, “Recognizing that each Standard is based on researched evidence, there are potential consequences associated with not following the Standards.” This message is a foundation for teaching the Standards and reviewing your program to ensure that it is meeting the outlined standards.

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