What is the future for simulation and other technologies in nursing education: An NLNTEQ interview with Suzie Kardong-Edgren

This interview with Dr. Suzie Kardong-Edgren, professor and director of the RISE Center at the School of Nursing and Health Sciences at Robert Morris University, Pennsylvania, discusses the history of research into the use of simulation in nursing education with a look to the future. Dr. Kardong-Edgren was one of the five researchers who published the NCSBN National Simulation Study on replacing clinical hours with simulation in prelicensure nursing education in 2014.

What significant milestones in your work contributed to your interest in research on the use of simulation in nursing education?

There were two significant events early in my academic career that prepared me for what was to come, though I did not know it at the time. I was asked early on, while at the University of Texas at Arlington, to manage four simultaneous studies for the American Heart Association as they developed and tested new products for teaching CPR. I spent one summer running all over the Dallas–Ft. Worth area with five undergraduate nursing students, trained as CPR instructors, to teach classes and gather data on different products we were testing. It was an amazing summer!

The second event was being asked to serve as the editor for a new in-house published journal within a new simulation organization, the International Nursing Association of Clinical Simulation and Learning (INACSL). After seeing the content and recognizing how good it was, I asked permission to attempt to sell the journal to a publishing company. The INACSL board wrote a request for proposal and an INACSL VP and I took it to the conference of the International Academy of Nursing Editors, known as INANE. We soon began partnering with Elsevier Publishing to publish the journal. Clinical Simulation in Nursing was the first online-only journal Elsevier had ever published and it was wildly successful, from the beginning.

Those two events helped prepare me for staying organized when working on multiple projects and for being audacious and thinking BIG – and, of course, for asking, “Why not?” Then came the unexpected call from the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), inviting me to serve as an external consultant on the NCSBN National Simulation Study. I remember sitting in the NCSBN office, looking into the clouds, over the tops of the tall buildings of Chicago, with Pam Jeffries. We were both wide-eyed. I said, “Can you believe we get to do this?” It was an awesome responsibility to plan such a massive and important study. I remember thinking to myself, “Don’t mess this up!”

What do you see as significant trends in simulation and technology in nursing education, from your perspective as an expert in these areas?

I grew up watching Star Trek; I consider myself a 25th century gal trapped in the 21st century. Today’s manikins are great and getting better, though they remain expensive, sometimes finicky, and are often not intuitive to operate. They are difficult for the one-man simulation operator, also the nurse and simulation educator, to master. I am working in virtual reality (VR) and haptics now. I think VR will be the next big trend but still a way station, on the way to the Holodeck of Star Trek lore.

I was an avid reader of science fiction when in high school and early college. Much of the technology I read about then has come to pass. I recently started reading science fiction again, to get caught up on what the next new things might be.

What insights can you share related to the value of simulation/technology in nursing education for health care organizations, now and in the future?

I think the biggest value that simulation will afford us in the near future is the ability to validate competencies in health care practitioners. We will be able to identify low performing practitioners, remediate where possible, and remove when necessary, to protect the public and raise the bar in health care quality and safety.

What advice do you have for nurse educators in the context of today’s health care and learning environments? If I were in school today and I wanted to work in education, I would concentrate on learning and being really good at simulation. I would work to be really good at online teaching and active learning strategies for the classroom. People who know these things will always have a job. Educators who remain wedded to lecture alone will not have a job in the future.



Dr. Kardong-Edgren is an internationally known thought leader and sought-after speaker in simulation. She received the highest honor in nursing education for simulation from the National League for Nursing, the Debra Spunt Lectureship in 2010. She serves as a consultant to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing on the landmark National Simulation Study, one of the largest nursing education studies ever undertaken. She is also a co-investigator on the high-stakes testing project for the National League for Nursing.

Dr. Kardong-Edgren was one of two nurses chosen to attend a 2011 think tank, working with 18 international experts to determine the top five priorities to increase patient safety using simulation. She has been working with the American Heart Association and Laerdal Medical Corporation to conduct CPR and ACLS research for the past four years. She was the first nurse to chair the Research Committee for the Society of Simulation in Healthcare, an interprofessional international simulation society. She publishes regularly and is the editor in chief of Clinical Simulation in Nursing. She was recently inducted as a National League for Nursing Educational Fellow.

Dr. Kardong-Edgren has held teaching positions at the University of Texas at Arlington College of Nursing and Washington State University.

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