Students at Lewis-Clark State College gain confidence and competence through the use of SLS

Nurses learning

At-A-Glance Facts

Lewis-Clark State College offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing program and an Associate of Applied Science for Practical Nursing program, as well as an Associate of Science Degree and a Bachelor of Science in Medical Diagnostic Imaging in its Radiology Program.

Human Patient Simulation using Elsevier’s Simulation Learning System (SLS) is currently being used at Lewis-Clark State College in place of two medical/surgical (Med/Surg) clinical days; a third simulation day is being considered for each semester.


Lewis-Clark State College began using Elsevier’s Simulation Learning System (SLS) in the Fall of 2009. “We knew our simulation program was building and growing, and our knowledge of simulation was increasing by that time, as well,” says Debbie Lemon, M.N., R.N., associate professor, Division of Nursing & Health Sciences, Lewis-Clark State College, Lewiston, ID. “We thought the SLS would help us bridge the gap between what we already knew and what we didn’t.”

The Lewis-Clark Simulation Experience

AtLewis-Clark State College, students complete assigned readings and the SLS pre-simulation exercises before they arrive at the simulation lab. They will participate in four simulation scenarios over the course of a clinical day. The clinical instructor is the facilitator for each scenario. “There are generally eight students in a group,” says Lemon. “Students are assigned to roles based on how the SLS scenario is written. One will be the primary nurse; another will be the secondary nurse; one might be a family member. The remaining students watch the scenario via real-time video from the report room. Once they’ve finished the scenario, all of the students and facilitating faculty meet for a debriefing session.”

The students will switch roles for the next scenario. “All will have the opportunity to be the primary and/or secondary nurse, and each has an opportunity to speak, sharing thoughts, emotions, and the learning that took place during the debriefing,” Lemon says.

SLS is currently being used in place of two medical/surgical (Med/Surg) clinical days, and it is working so well that the faculty at Lewis-Clark is considering also using it for remediation of students who need extra support in the clinical environment. “We’re hoping that we’ll soon be able to use simulation to help students who may be struggling to increase their skills and knowledge,” says Lemon.

According to Lemon, students are sometimes intimidated by the idea of simulation, but once they have experienced it, they want to do more. “There are times when procedures or equipment are included in the simulation that the student has not yet learned in theory, which can be a little intimidating at first,” she says. “For example, in one simulation an IV with the wrong solution was hung to see if the students would pick up on it. Not too long after that an instructor overheard some students talking as they were leaving the hospital about how grateful they were to have been through that experience during simulation. It had made them more aware of the different situations they should look for and assess in the clinical setting.”

Evaluation and Student Feedback

Lemon says that the SLS makes simulation scenarios “come alive” due to the resources it provides to both the student and the faculty. “The pre-simulation activities for the student prepare them to be aware of theory content, whereby application during the clinical simulation scenario can be carried out more effectively, thus establishing greater learning opportunities,” she says. “The post-simulation activities provide the student and faculty members the opportunity to evaluate the learning that took place.”

Lemon believes that the SLS simulation scenarios help students gain both confidence and competence. “One-second semester student identified an oxygen problem right away when we hadn’t expected it would be identified until later in the scenario,” she says. “During the debriefing, the student was asked how she discovered the problem so quickly. The student said she has missed the same problem during an earlier scenario and she was not going to make the same mistake twice. The simulations make students more aware of events that can take place in the clinical setting, and therefore, they are better prepared.”