Nurse Educators Behind Shadow Health’s Simulations

Bringing real-word experience to simulation design 

Do you know why Tina, Lucas and Tanner are so realistic? One important reason is because of Cheryl, Amanda and Brittny. 

As you may know, Tina, Lucas and Tanner are just three of the Digital Standardized Patients that are part of Shadow Health’s simulations for undergraduate and graduate nursing programs. 

These ​​Digital Clinical Experiences™ are a vital part of the education of more than 700,000 nursing students across the country – giving them the opportunity to practice as often as they need with realistic, simulated patients. 

And that is where Elsevier’s Nurse Educators come in – specifically the team of Cheryl Wilson, DNP, APRN, ANP-BC, FNP-BC, CNE, CHSE, Amanda Davis, PhD, APRN, FNP-C and Brittny Chabalowski, DNP, APRN, AGACNP-BC, CNE, CHSE. 

Elsevier’s Nurse Educators within Shadow Health

These three women are embedded within the Shadow Health development team and help create new simulations as well as continually updating current ones to reflect changes in the language and practices that nurses use. 

Prior to joining Elsevier, Cheryl, Amanda and Brittny all worked as nurses and then nursing faculty. As faculty, they implemented Shadow Health into their courses. 

Cheryl recounted her experience with Shadow Health as a faculty member. “I have been a strong proponent from Day One. I really saw the value of being able to learn in a virtual environment to get feedback right away and have students practice their communication skills with a patient.” 

“Shadow Health helped us get training out to students in a different way that could be even more accessible than clinical training,” added Brittny. “I think it’s very important to have that safety net for our learners.” 

Amanda remembers how impressed she was. “I could guarantee when using Shadow Health that students would have an equal opportunity to do all the skills that I was expecting and show me how well they’re doing it. It would give them the comfort of saying ‘Okay, I’ve practiced this in a safe space.’” 

Now as members of the Elsevier team, the three work side-by-side with developers, narrative designers, learning designers, product managers and others to bring their expertise to the Shadow Health simulations. 

“When we begin working on a new offering, we have initial conversations to make our patients in ‘Shadowville’ represent more of what the U.S. looks like,” says Cheryl.  

“We all have very different nursing backgrounds, which makes it really great to sit down and brainstorm various types of cases. But we don’t do this in a vacuum. As an example, when Shadow Health developed an LGBTQ+ patient, we worked with experts in the field to help ensure the language is how a real patient would respond. 

“Our team acts as a bridge between the nursing side and the creative side,” adds Brittny. “For example, my experience is generally in the ER and trauma world. So the patients that I am used to interacting with in practice are typically not thrilled about being in the hospital. They’re in a crisis mode. 

“For example, a patient might not be as forthcoming with information as we need – or become irritated with questions about their medications. The Digital Clinical Experiences have those types of real-world scenarios that nurses will likely encounter.” 

Modeling Therapeutic Communication

Keeping the language of the simulations current is critical. “Language, specifically phrases and terms, change over time,” explains Amanda.” We make sure our simulations reflect these developments to continue to model therapeutic communication for our learners.” 

The three women get great satisfaction knowing that the Shadow Health simulations help scale their expertise to a wide audience and that coming generations of nurses will have the best preparation for difficult conversations. 

“I didn’t realize the reach that we had until I was at a booth in a conference,” says Cheryl. “Faculty would walk by and shout ‘Lucas!’ or ‘Tina!’ like they knew them well.” 

“I think that’s the most fun part of our job,” added Brittny. “We really bring these characters to life.” 

“All the work that we put in behind the scenes is going to benefit the greater good of the profession,” says Amanda. 

Cheryl wrapped up the conversation perfectly. “We develop the patients and send them out into the world. They become almost like our children.”