Success Story

SimChart Gives Faculty the Opportunity to Teach Clinical Online at Georgia Highlands College

Simulation coordinator Shea Walker, MSN, RN, CCRN, faces a challenge other nursing faculty are tackling in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic: How do you get meaningful clinical experience to your students when you can’t be near them?

With classes moving online, Walker says she was thankful that her ASN program at Georgia Highlands College had already started to integrate online tools like SimChartNursing Concepts Online (NCO)Elsevier Adaptive Quizzing (EAQ) and HESI.

“I think that it was just one of those blessings in disguise that we chose to go that that route already, because they have access, they can get to what they need,” Walker says. “Hopefully that’s going to eliminate some of the stress because stress levels are high for everybody.”

Adapting the Classroom

Before classes transitioned online, students in her program used low fidelity simulation through SimChart as a learning tool to prepare them for what they might see in a real clinical setting. With the move online, their use of SimChart has increased.

“All the students would do at least one scenario a semester just to practice their charting” she says.

According to Walker, by using SimChart in a higher capacity than their typical charting practice, Georgia Highlands helps students meet the requirements of their simulation evaluation in their completely digital experience. Through SimChart, Walker is able to supplement additional hours of clinical credit.

In addition to completing SimChart scenarios, students also work on debrief sessions meant to replicate the post-conference for clinical in a digital setting. Students answer additional questions related to the simulation activity that help faculty assess their students.

“What’s amazing is we can still evaluate them predominantly with the existing clinical evaluation tool we use and with the same chart because we can still see them. Are they assessing the patient appropriately? Did they, you know, intervene when something was wrong because those situations exist inside SimChart.”

Tracking Student Outcomes

As a school that implemented a concept-based curriculum starting last year, clinical evaluations and student learning outcomes change as the course progresses. Walker’s program also measures students through an acronym their faculty refer to as “ACES” to measure accountability, caring, excellence and scholarship.

Helping her students thrive in her ASN program is a priority for Walker. With a variety of students in her program, she’s already thinking of how she can help them all during the transition online, considering things like internet access and their ability to be connected to learn.

“I think the biggest thing is some degree of balance and flexibility while maintaining accountability,” Walker says.

Adjusting for the Future

With the move online, Walker wants to equip her students with what they need to be successful in a virtual classroom. Through Zoom meetings, increased office hours and having phone calls over e-mails, Walker hopes to provide her students what they need to continue their education.

Walker recorded an instructional video for her students on how to use SimChart to share similarities to simulation. With tools like patient charts and medications, students can still develop clinical judgement they can access whenever they need it. HESI exit exams usually administered to test student knowledge have been pushed back in Walker’s program to remove any additional stressors to her students.

“They’re still getting that critical thinking they’re still working together as a team. They’re just not able to do the actual hands on right this second,” Walker says.

Although we will see things going back to normal eventually, Walker says she thinks classrooms will continue to get more and more digital. with educational tools like eBooks and digital platforms already becoming more prominent.

“Students still have to be accountable, to make sure they’re achieving their student learning outcomes because they’re going to be taking care of people,” Walker says.

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