Understanding Nursing Simulation Labs

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Nursing simulation labs are where students can practice nursing skills in a safe, simulated setting and learn from their mistakes without real-world consequences. The two types of labs — skills and nursing simulation — help establish the foundation for providing direct patient care and prepare students for clinical rotations.

student checks manikin's heart rate

Nursing simulation labs are a chance to get familiar with nursing and practice nursing skills in a safe, risk-free setting. At the University of the Incarnate Word (UIW), students enrolled in the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) track will participate in nursing simulation labs as soon as the first semester.

Simulation labs fit neatly into your nursing education as the bridge between nursing coursework and clinical rotations. As a nursing student, simulation labs are where you apply the knowledge gained through coursework. You will practice these skills in simulated settings before moving on to clinical rotations, where you provide direct patient care under close supervision.

Below is a deeper explanation of nursing simulation labs and why they are essential to your education.

students in class

Are you about to start nursing school? Read more to learn seven tips that will help you prepare for nursing school.

What are Nursing Labs?

Nursing labs allow students to practice and demonstrate skills and knowledge before providing real-world patient care in clinical rotations. In a simulation laboratory, nursing skills and techniques are practiced in a risk-free environment designed to resemble a functioning healthcare facility while utilizing high-tech patient simulators and medical equipment.

The Difference Between Simulation Labs and Skills Labs

Students participate in two types of nursing labs: skills labs and nursing simulation labs. On the surface, these labs are similar, but the goals of each lab are different.

UIW student in red scrubs smiling in front of manikin

What Does a Skills Lab Entail?

Skills labs are completed inside a simulation laboratory, where students practice basic nursing skills and apply foundational concepts while using patient simulator manikins and hospital equipment. During skills labs, students will learn to:

  • Check vital signs
  • Conduct head-to-toe assessments
  • Insert nasogastric tubes, catheters and IVs
  • Perform wound care

These skills labs establish the groundwork on which students build more complex knowledge and skills. Students will apply these new skills to the second type of lab: nursing simulation.

What Does a Nursing Simulation Lab Entail?

Nursing simulation labs build off the knowledge and skills acquired through skills labs and nursing courses. After establishing fundamental skills, students participate in simulated patient care scenarios that challenge their collaboration and clinical judgment.

Simulation labs consist of three learning components: introduction, simulation and review. Your instructors will first establish the clinical scenario before you participate in the simulation. You will then carry out the scenario, interacting with medical equipment and manikins.

These manikins can simulate various conditions — from allergic reactions to cardiac arrest — and you must be able to work with your cohorts to think critically and carry out the simulated procedure.

Upon completion, you will review the simulation, discussing what went right or wrong with your instructors, helping you further develop your clinical judgment.

UIW nursing student in red scrubs checking the time

Why is Simulation in Nursing Education Important?

Simulation in nursing education is critical to your professional development. You can practice nursing skills during simulation labs while building confidence and clinical judgment. This is a chance to learn from your mistakes in a safe environment without the real-world ramifications.

Clinical simulation in nursing serves as a training ground for nursing students. This way, as you enter the clinical rotations portion of your education, you will have experience collaborating in a healthcare setting and can perform nursing skills you have already practiced.

Labs will also help you when it is time to take the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX) for registered nurses, as you will have plenty of experience with nursing best practices and exercising clinical judgment in addition to clinical rotations.

Earning a BSN launches your nursing career and opens many career paths. Read more to learn which nursing paths you can pursue with a BSN.

UIW nursing student with backpack

Take the First Step Toward a Career in Nursing

Are you ready to take the steps toward a nursing career? UIW’s ABSN can make it happen. If you have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree or 60 college credits from an accredited institution, you may meet the admission requirements and can start working toward earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

UIW offers a high-quality and comprehensive education that includes online learning, nursing simulation labs and clinical rotations. Contact an admissions counselor today to learn more about our ABSN and how you can start your nursing education.