Virtual Simulations

Virtual simulations, also called screen-based simulations or virtual simulation games, are "the recreation of reality depicted on a computer screen" that "injects humans in a central role by exercising motor control skills, decision skills, or communication skills."1 This includes virtual patient simulators, which are "a computer program that simulates real-life clinical scenarios in which the learner acts as a health care provider obtaining a history and physical exam, and making diagnostic and therapeutic decisions."2

This is distinguished from virtual reality simulations, which require the use of specialized head-mounted displays.

New! Micro-Course on Virtual Sims: As part of our new micro-course series we are excited to announce this course on virtual sims. Learn how to select an appropriate technology platform, plan and author scenarios, and integrate the virtual experience into a curriculum, including debriefing.
Details & Registration >


Virtual Patients - Review of Pedagogical and Technological Options
Download the Prezi presentation here: for MAC • for PC. View the recorded webinar here.
In this webinar, we reviewed the different types of virtual patients from a pedagogical perspective, tying technological structure to pedagogical purpose.

Virtual Simulations - What are my debriefing options?
Download Margaret Verkuyl's PowerPoint presentation here. View the recorded webinar here.
Presented by Margaret Verkuyl, leading designer and researcher in virtual simulations for nursing. In this webinar, Margaret reviewed different debriefing options when using virtual simulations and identified which debriefing format works best based on the learner, virtual simulation and learning outcomes.

Support for Distance Learning During COVID-19: We have launched a few initiatives to help our community connect with other simulationists and share ideas, experiences and successes while supporting distance learning: a weekly drop-in videoconference, a COVID19 channel in SIM Chat, and more. Ask about various options, others' experiences with different platforms, who might have resources or virtual scenarios to share, etc.
Details & Access >

Discounts/Promotions During COVID-19: Several suppliers of virtual simulation platforms are offering special promotions, such as free cases and subscription discounts, during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are compiling these as we identify them; the summary is below the list of virtual simulation platforms.
Jump to promotions >

List of Virtual Simulation Platforms

This is not intended to be a comprehensive list but a collection of platforms we have identified. If you know of something missing, please add a comment below and we will update the list.

Platform Type3 Scope/Focus Lang Authoring interface? Licensing  
Anesthesia SimSTAT from CAE Responsive Anesthesia En No Commercial
Body Interact (available in Canada from Nasco Healthcare) Responsive Multiple professions En, Fr, more Yes Commercial  
Video-Based Virtual Games from CAN-Sim Branching Nursing En, Fr No Some free, some members only
Virtual Healthcare Experience from Ryerson University, Centennial College & George Brown College Branching Nursing En No Free
Affinity Learning Linear, branching Medicine En Yes Commercial
CyberPatient Exploratory Medicine En No Commercial
Immersive Healthcare Virtual world Multiple professions En No Commercial
OpenLabyrinth from a Canadian consortium Branching Multiple professions En Yes Open source
PeriopSim Procedural OR Nursing En No Commercial
PureMedSim Physiology Physiology, medicine, pharmacy En No Commercial
Reach gamified learning Linear, branching Interprofessional En Yes Commercial
Stilwell Canada from Humber College Collaborative Interprofessional En No Academic
Turbulent Sky from Red River College Virtual world Disaster response En No Free
Virtual Interactive Case system by PIE at University Health Network Exploratory Medicine, nursing, pharmacy En Yes Commercial (non-profit)
abcdeSIM from the Virtual Medical School Responsive Medicine, nursing En No Commercial  
Acadicus Virtual world Medicine En Yes Commercial  
Aquifer Linear Medicine, nursing, osteopathy En No Commercial (non-profit)  
BreakAway Games - several platforms Various Medicine, Paramedicine, Nursing, Dentistry, Optometry, others En Yes Commercial  
CASUS Virtual Patients Linear Medicine En Yes Commercial (non-profit)


Corsmed MRI Simulator Various MRI & Radiography En No Commercial  
DecisionSim by Kynectiv Branching Medicine En Yes Commercial  
Digital Clinical Experiences by Shadow Health Exploratory Nursing, pharmacy, geronotology En No Commercial  
DiscourseLLC Virtual Patient Exploratory Medicine (focus on surgery) En No Commercial  
DrSim by Accurate Solutions Responsive Medicine En Yes Commercial  
DxR Virtual Clinician and DxR Nursing Select Exploratory Medicine, nursing, physiotherapy, chiropractic En Yes Commercial  
FullCode Emergency Room Simulator Responsive Acute care En No Commercial  
i-Human Patients by Kaplan Exploratory Medicine, nursing En No Commercial  
InSimu Patient Exploratory Medicine En No Commercial  
Kognito Communication Medicine, nursing En No Commercial  
MedActiV by SimforHealth Exploratory Medicine En, Fr Yes Commercial  
MedEdQR Exploratory Medicine En Yes Commercial  
MedSims by WebMD/Medscape Exploratory Medicine En No Commercial  
medspace.VR Virtual world Radiography En No Commercial  
OpenSimulator Virtual world Multiple professions En Yes Open source  
Otis the Virtual Patient by Innoforce Exploratory Audiology En No Commercial  
Oxford Medical Simulation Distance Responsive Medicine, nursing En No Commercial  
PCS Spark can be used through a web browser Communication Multiple professions; focus on communication En Yes Commercial  
Practical Clinical Skills Linear Multiple professions; core clinical assessment En No Free  
Real Life from ATI Branching Nursing En No Commercial  
safeMedicate Med admin calculations Nursing (safe medication practices) En No Commercial  
Sentinel U Virtual world, exploratory Nursing En No Commercial  
SIMTABS Exploratory Medicine En Yes Commercial  
SIMTICS Procedural Multiple professions En No Commercial  
Simucase Exploratory, procedural Audiology, SLP, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy En No Commercial  
SimulationIQ IPE & SimPHARM from EMS Physiology/pharmacology Interprofessional / Pharmacy En Yes Commercial  
Swift River Virtual Clinicals Linear Nursing En No Commercial  
uChoose from the University of the West of England Branching Multiple professions; existing focus on medicine En Yes Free  
USC Standard Patient from the University of South Carolina Communication Medicine En Yes Free  
vClinical from NurseThink Linear Nursing En No Commercial  
Virtual Clinical Excursions and other platforms from Elsevier Exploratory Nursing, Medical office admin En No Commercial  
vSim for Nursing from Laerdal and Wolters-Kluwer Exploratory Nursing En No Commercial  

Promotions & Discounts During COVID-19

Here we list special cases, discounts, promotions and resources that simulation suppliers are offering during the pandemic. Again, this list is not exhaustive and we add items as we identify them. If we aere missing something, please contact us.

Body Interact (available in Canada from Nasco Healthcare) - available for month-by-month subscription (usually only an annual subscription). Contact >

vSim for Nursing from Laerdal and Wolters-Kluwer - educational trial licenses and emergency subscription discounts. Contact: LaerdalWolters Kluwer

Affinity Learning - up to 5 users and 10 modules are free

CyberPatient - completely free during COVID

Oxford Medical Simulation Distance - free 60-day access to 5 cases

DxR Nursing SELECT - special 3-month trial subscription during COVID-19 closures

PCS Spark - Three free cases are available, including one on COVID. Access >

MedActiV from SimforHealth - free access to create and disseminate virtual sims related to COVID-19.

medspace.VR - free remote access license for students included with institutional license

SimEMR and Virtual MedsManager from kbPort - both free access during the pandemic. More >

SonoSim ultrasound simulation - free and discounted access to online courses and virtual U/S simulator

HumanSim Sedation & Airway - 10 free scenarios during COVID (PC only)

Resources & Advice to Enable Distance Simulations

See our page on Facilitating Simulations at a Distance for lists of resources and platforms.

Free COVID-19 Virtual Patients

We are compiling links to free virtual sims on COVID-19 per se on our COVID-19 Resources page.


  • 1. Lioce L. (Ed.), Downing D., Chang T.P., Robertson J.M., Anderson M., Diaz D.A., and Spain A.E. (Assoc. Eds.) and the Terminology and Concepts Working Group (2020), Healthcare Simulation Dictionary –Second Edition. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; January 2020. AHRQ Publication No. 20-0019. DOI:
  • 2. ibid
  • 3. For a review of this classification see Virtual Patients - Review of Pedagogical and Technological Options - adapted from Kononowicz AA, Zary N, Edelbring S, Corral J, Hege I. Virtual patients - what are we talking about? A framework to classify the meanings of the term in healthcare education. BMC Med Educ. 2015;15(1):11. doi:10.1186/s12909-015-0296-3


Under 'List of Virtual Simulation Platforms,' please add our software for Undergraduate Nursing to the list: DxR Nursing SELECT - interactive virtual patient scenarios for undergraduate nursing education; available in EN and CN

And under Free/Discounted Subscriptions, please add the same product, as follows:

DxR Nursing SELECT - special 3-month trial subscription during COVID-19 closures; usually available only as a perpetual site license

Thank you.


Submitted by Jon Brouchoud on

Hello!  We would love for Acadicus to be included if it qualified:

Thank you for your consideration!

Jon Brouchoud