Graduate School of Nursing Dissertations

Publication Date


Document Type

Dissertation, Doctoral


Graduate School of Nursing

Dissertation Committee Chair

Elaine Parker


Students, Nursing, Education, Nursing, Baccalaureate, Patient Simulation

Subject Categories



Human patient simulation (HPS) has been used for over 40 years in medical education. A human patient simulator is a life-like, anatomically correct, computer driven mannequin with physiologic responses that mimic real patients. Since the introduction of computerized HPS in 2000, its use by medical and nursing students has grown exponentially. Approximately 500 nursing schools are using human patient simulators in nursing education. Researchers have suggested that using HPS can assist in reducing the gaps between theory and practice by improving critical thinking, decision making and patient outcomes. An increase in recognition of medical errors has dictated the need to improve education by allowing students and clinicians to learn in an environment that permits errors and do not put real patients in danger.

However, there is a dearth of research on the benefits, advantages and disadvantages of HPS as well as the learning experiences of students who used HPS in their nursing education. Therefore, the purpose of this qualitative study was to describe and analyze the learning experience of baccalaureate nursing students who used HPS during their education. Focus group interviews with HPS students were recorded and transcribed for content analysis in NVIVO, a qualitative analysis software program. The results of the analysis were categorized into four major themes: Structure, Environment, Instructor and Learning. The findings revealed that HPS students felt that structure was critical to optimize learning opportunities. Students wanted to be properly oriented to the environment of the HPS sessions, and they felt that the lack of realism of the simulators did not negatively affect their learning. Students wanted knowledgeable and competent instructors who had good interpersonal communication and interaction skills. Last, students expressed that there were benefits from acting as both the nurse and the observer during HPS. The opportunity to make mistakes without harming a patient and to experience different types of nurse-to-nurse reports were viewed as positive.

The findings of the study suggested that further research about student perceptions of HPS learning experiences could provide valuable information for educators and policymakers to improve the implementation of HPS in nursing and medical education.



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