Build Your Case for Simulation Equipment

By: Sabrina Beroz

636232341000937145-2058526602_technology.jpgIn a relatively short period of time, technology has changed the world. Technology is everywhere. We have computers, smartphones, tablets, and cloud computing. Simulation-based education using high-fidelity manikins has been integrated into nursing curricula for more than a decade. Nursing students can now practice care in a safe environment to promote clinical reasoning and decision-making.  However, these technologies come with a hefty price tag.

The NLN “Vision for Teaching with Simulation” identified factors that inform the use of simulation in nursing education, such as the transformation from passive to experiential learning, situated cognition for learning in context, and self-reflection as a way to enhance safe patient care. The INACSL Standards of Best Practice: SimulationSM and the NCSBN Simulation Guidelines for Prelicensure Nursing Programs (Alexander et al., 2015) are evidence of the evolution of simulation as a salient tool for educating nurses.

The purchase of expensive simulation equipment is inevitable, but it is important to build your case. An initial analysis is important to identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats toward simulation-based education in your organization. Once you have completed the analysis, develop a proposal summary with a general statement of need, goals/objectives for the equipment, and an evaluation/sustainability plan. Then expand your proposal with more detailed information, noting that data are important. Add some numbers and information on how use of your simulation center underpins the need for equipment.

Following are additional considerations when building your case for simulation equipment.

Intended Use: Perform a curriculum review to identify gaps and where simulation best fits to meet educational outcomes. Look at the number of courses and student hours that will be impacted by the equipment. Other factors to consider when writing your proposal for equipment are the potential for an increase in enrollment, student retention, and transition to practice. Remember to plan for future needs.

Equipment: Select the type of equipment that best fills the need. Often high-fidelity manikins are purchased with functionality beyond the intended use. Spend time with vendors to map your needs relative to simulator capabilities. Ask for comparisons of like manikins from other vendors. Require a detailed quote from each vendor to assess similarities, differences, and price. Be sure to include costs for maintenance, warrantees, and training. Identify which vendor support representative is most attentive to your needs . . . because all simulators will eventually need repair. Once you have done your due diligence by seeking quotes from multiple vendors, reach out to colleagues who have used the equipment you intend to purchase to get their experience.

Space: Provide evidence that the simulation center has adequate space to accommodate the requested equipment. Explain how the equipment will fit into the center and how additional materials will be stored. Describe the effectiveness of the space for the simulated experience and debriefing.

Sustainability: Consider how your institution will maintain function of the equipment when warrantees and maintenance agreements expire. Develop a framework (fiscal, human, material) to support simulation-based education. Identify the number of trained faculty/staff who will use the equipment and the time allocated to its use. Identify the need for additional materials necessary for optimal use of the equipment.

Lastly, create a process to evaluate the effectiveness of the equipment and its return on investment.

Good Luck!

Alexander, M., Durham, C., Hooper, J., Jeffries, P., Goldman, N., Kardong-Edgren, S.,…Tillman, C. (2015). NCSBN simulation guidelines for prelicensure nursing programs. Journal of Nursing Regulation, 6, 39-42.

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