To secure a state-of-the-art education for tomorrow’s nurses, Maryland’s nurse educators must become masters of simulation technology.
Faculty from 10 Maryland nursing schools have now learned how to incorporate simulation training in their teaching thanks to the Maryland Faculty Academy for Simulation Teaching in Nursing (M-FAST), held on January 9-13, 2012 at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing (JHUSON).
“Simulations provide students a safe, simulated clinical environment to hone their skills, develop their problem-solving abilities, and get experience within their scope of practice,” says Pamela R. Jeffries, PhD, RN, FAAN, ANEF, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at JHUSON. “It’s absolutely an essential part of today’s nursing education.”
According to Jeffries, simulated patient scenarios are most effective when facilitated by an educator who understands the technology, the pedagogy, and the way that students learn—and all of these topics are taught to faculty who attend the M-FAST Academy. They learn to facilitate the student learning experience and then share their knowledge, becoming faculty trainers for their own schools and universities. In this way, M-FAST continues to improve simulation education throughout the state long after the Academy is over.
The result predicted by M-FAST Principal Investigator Linda Rose, PhD, RN, will be a cadre of nursing graduates who are well-prepared for the rigors of a nursing career. The techniques taught at M-FAST “are great for assessing student competencies, so teachers can better identify student strengths and weaknesses and develop targeted teaching to address them,” says Rose. Additional results include better rates of student retention, graduation, and passing licensure exams.
Another added benefit of the program, according to M-FAST Project Manager Jennifer Haire is an easing of the state’s nursing shortage. Nursing schools often limit their student enrollment—and therefore the number of new nurses entering the workforce each year—based on the number of clinical assignment positions available. When students spend some of their clinical time in simulation scenarios instead of real-time clinical care of patients, schools can potentially accept more students and graduate more qualified nurses.
M-FAST is a three-year program, funded by the Maryland Higher Education Commission in 2010. That year, the consortium brought together six Maryland nursing schools. Two more were added in 2011, and an additional two schools joined in 2012. The 10 M-FAST schools represent a wide range of nursing schools: small- and large-enrollment programs, associate and baccalaureate degree programs, and programs with varying levels of simulation expertise and resources.
As they move forward implementing new technology and pedagogy, the 10 M-FAST Consortium schools will continue to collaborate with one another, share learning modules and scenarios to use with students, learn from other schools’ successes, and have continuing support from M-FAST instructors. Schools will also have access to aggregated data showing the impact of simulation training across the schools.
The Consortium includes the nursing programs of: