NCSBN releases landmark simulation study

NCSBN releases landmark simulation study
Fri, August 15

Results have major implications for nursing education

UPDATE! Study results have been published online.
Read the results >

Simulation-based training effectively prepares nursing graduates as they transition into the nursing workforce, according to the NCSBN (National Council of State Boards of Nursing) National Simulation Study.

The long-awaited results of this national, multi-site, longitudinal study were presented on August 13th at the NCSBN Annual Meeting in Chicago, U.S.A. The study revealed that final-year clinical nursing courses with up to 50% of the clinical placement time replaced by a simulation-based curriculum were just as effective as traditional clinical placement courses at preparing students for work as a professional nurse.

Sandra Goldsworthy, a nursing professor and simulation researcher from Georgian College, and co-author of Simulation Simplified: A Practical Handbook for Critical Care Nurse Educators, attended the meeting.

“The results of this rigorous, landmark study have important implications for Canadian nurse educators, researchers and managers,” said Goldsworthy. “This study provides definitive evidence demonstrating that replacing 50% of clinical time with simulation is equally as effective as traditional clinical preparation. It is important to note that this refers to simulation delivery under the right conditions, which includes utilizing simulation best practices and investment in faculty development to ensure high-quality simulation education delivery.”

The NCSBN is a not-for-profit organization that provides education, service and research through collaborative leadership to promote evidence-based regulatory excellence for patient safety and public protection. The College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO) is an associate member of the NCSBN.

Conducted from 2009-2014, the NCSBN study investigated the impacts of substituting clinical placement time with simulation-based curricula for prelicensure nursing programs at 10 universities across the U.S.

The study followed nursing graduates as they took the nursing licensing examination and transitioned into the nursing workforce, to measure their level of preparedness and competence. Nursing students were divided among three study groups: 1) Control Group (no more than 10% of clinical time spent in simulation); 2) 25% simulation in place of traditional clinical hours; and 3) 50% simulation in place of traditional clinical hours.

Simulation has long been viewed as a significant improvement for nursing education, leading to increased patient safety and quality of care. However, questions persisted as to the risks and effectiveness of simulation replacing clinical placement time from the perspective of the quality of training for the health professional. The results announced today confirm that simulation-based curricula, when delivered according to best practices and integrated with clinical activities, can be equally effective as clinical experience alone.

“The Canadian Patient Safety Institute recognizes the potential of simulation to improve healthcare practices,” said Abigail Hain, Senior Director of the Canadian Patient Safety Institute (CPSI). “The positive findings from the National Simulation Study demonstrate that skills for entry-level clinicians and students can be learned, honed and evaluated in a safe learning environment using simulation before students move to complex clinical environments, where system failures and complexity add risks to the processes of care.”

For more information on the NCSBN National Simulation Study, please visit The results of the study will be published in the August issue of Journal of Nursing Regulation.