Focus on. . .Education

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RN-to-BSN Program Goals

Aspen University offers an online RN to BSN degree program for registered nurses who have an associate degree or diploma in nursing and wish to pursue a baccalaureate degree.

With a liberal arts foundation, our RN-to-BSN program builds on initial nursing preparation to prepare nurses for a broader scope of practice with a useful understanding of the cultural, political, economic, and social issues that affect patients and influence care delivery. It is designed for adult learners wishing to complete their undergraduate degree without the on-campus class requirement. Continue reading »

Interprofessional education

Combining skills and knowledge from different disciplines enhances patient care.

By Joanne Disch, PhD, RN, FAAN


In 2003, the Committee on Health Professions Education of the Institute of Medicine released a report recommending that “All health professionals should be educated to deliver patient-centered care as members of an interdisciplinary team, emphasizing evidence-based practice, quality improvement approaches, and informatics.” Thus, a common recommendation was directed to all health professions’ schools to ensure their graduates are competent in these five areas. Through its work in the Quality and Safety Education for Nurses (QSEN) initiative, the nursing community divided quality improvement into two competencies, resulting in a sixth area—safety. Continue reading »

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Can nursing meet the 80/2020 goal?

Progress is slow but steady as RNs head back to school to get their BSN.

By Janet Boivin, BSN, RN

Will 80% of RNs hold a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree by the year 2020? Not likely, say nursing experts. But not to worry, they add. For the first time in the decades-old debate over whether a BSN should be required for practice, RNs are heading back to school in record numbers.   Continue reading »

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Your doctorate and the path to persistence

Completing your doctorate requires support and more.

By Nancy Bellucci, PhD, RN, CNOR

High attrition rates for doctoral nursing students (reported to be as much as 50%) in the face of an increasing demand for PhD-prepared nursing faculty is a growing concern. So, what’s at the crux of this problem and how do we solve it? When I was a doctoral student, I researched how other doctoral students balanced work, family, and school. The goal was to learn more about the strategies used by these students. (See More about the research.) Continue reading »

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Lifelong learning: Is a post-master’s certificate the right option for you?

It may be the key to opening the door to new opportunities.  

By Meigan Robb, PhD, RN, and Teresa Shellenbarger, PhD, RN, CNE, ANEF

As a professional nurse, you know the importance of embracing lifelong learning and the value of furthering education to enhance your career opportunities. The Institute of Medicine’s 2010 report The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health suggests that to promote change and enhance population health, nurses must commit to advancing their knowledge and skills. One way to do this is to continue your education and seek a post-master’s certificate—an educational option for both clinically focused advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) and nonclinically focused master’s–prepared nurses. Continue reading »

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Ready to change specialties?

Make sure you know yourself and what you really want.  

By Janet Boivin, BSN, RN

Deciding to change your nursing specialty can require as much self-assessment and research as transitioning into an entirely new career. Or it can be as simple as moving to a hospital unit that requires similar nursing skills but has a different patient population. Continue reading »

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Returning to nursing school? Keys to success

Preparation will help ease the transition.

By Teresa Shellenbarger, PhD, RN, CNE, ANEF, and Meigan Robb, PhD, RN


Congratulations! You have decided to pursue additional nursing education and been accepted at the program of your choice. You’re happy—right? But you also may be feeling a bit anxious, especially if you haven’t been in school for a while. Continue reading »

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Is an accelerated nursing program right for you?

This challenging approach to nursing education offers plenty of rewards.

By Janet Boivin, BSN, RN

Even with a 3.8 GPA from the University of Florida, Katrina Sherman, a junior majoring in English, harbored doubts that she could find a well-paying job when she graduated. So she began considering nursing as an option.

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in English in 2010, Sherman searched for accelerated nursing programs across the country. She created a spreadsheet and systematically recorded program names, the types of credits each required for admission, and the deadlines for applying.

Continue reading »

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Frontiers of nursing education

As student needs and priorities shift, education adapts.

By Janet Boivin, BSN, RN

In less than half a century, nursing education has advanced from a highly structured model to one with a wide menu of options designed to satisfy the diverse learning needs of today’s students. Continue reading »

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Moving ahead with your nursing education

Take advantage of the resources available to you.

By Deborah E. Trautman, PhD, RN, FAAN

Whether you’re a newly licensed nurse or a seasoned professional, the time is always right to take the next step in your education. Returning to school opens new doors of opportunity for your career, as higher levels of education allow you to work in the settings of your choice and assume more responsibility for shaping care delivery. Continue reading »

Consider a career as a healthcare education simulator

Simulations give healthcare professionals and students the opportunity to practice complex skills in realistic settings. According to David Gaba, MD, director of the Center for Immersive and Simulation-Based Learning at Stanford University School of Medicine, “Simulation is a technique—not a technology—to replace or amplify real experiences with guided experiences that evoke or replicate substantial aspects of the real world in a fully interactive manner.”

Simulation has rapidly become an integral part of clinical education in the health professions, from prelicensure programs through orientation, residencies, and professional development. Advancement of simulation in health care opens new career paths in teaching with cutting-edge technology while contributing to healthcare quality and safety.

Healthcare simulation educators (HSEs) support healthcare professionals who are learning to manage clinical situations and provide care that’s safe, effective, efficient, timely, patientcentered, and equitable. This article describes the important roles HSEs can play and provides resources nurses can use to prepare for their new roles in educational simulation.

What HSEs do

HSEs may teach an individual learner or a group of learners practicing to work as a team. Simulation settings represent specific environments, such as an operating suite, a hospital unit, or an emergency response site in the community. The fidelity level (degree of realism) and simulation education model chosen for a particular situation depend on the desired learning outcomes and available resources. Simulation delivery models include those that use task trainers, mannequins, standardized patients, computerbased settings, and virtual reality. (See Models of simulation-based clinical education.)

Simulation-focused theory and research provide the scientific basis, practice guidelines, educator competencies, and quality standards for this field. The International Nursing Association for Clinical Simulation and Learning has developed comprehensive standards of practice for simulation. In 2015, the National Council of State Boards of Nursing published guidelines for the use of simulation in prelicensure nursing education; the guidelines recommend special preparation for educators whose teaching will involve simulation.

Progress in the area of simulation has inspired advancement in other areas of nursing education and practice. For example, debriefing and reflection have proven so valuable in enhancing learning during simulation that nursing leaders are promoting arenewed integration of those teaching-learning strategies across the nursing curriculum.

Roles for HSEs

If you’re interested in an expanded career role as an HSE, you have many options for getting involved. Roles, titles, and team members vary across settings. Some simulation centers are run by one educator and serve one healthcare profession, whereas larger centers may employ technical and educational specialists under the direction of a simulation director and support learners from multiple health professions.

Roles for HSEs may be direct or indirect. Direct roles and associated activities include:

academic program educator or faculty member: teaching through simulation, designing simulations congruent with the curriculum, promoting reflection and debriefing, evaluating performance, and providing feedback.

clinical department educator: teaching through simulation, designing simulations congruent with quality-improvement processes, promoting reflection and debriefing, evaluating performance, and providing feedback

operations specialist: scheduling, managing equipment and technical support, and providing voice responses for mannequins and off-screen characters

center director or coordinator: providing leadership for staff; managing budget, staffing, and facilities.

Indirect roles and corresponding activities include:

researcher: conducting studies using simulation as a tool to investigate clinical practice questions or identify the most effective uses of simulation; designing optimal healthcare processes and equipment

corporate sales and education: providing training and ongoing customer support related to simulation technology

entrepreneur: providing simulation services to healthcare organizations that don’t run their own simulation services

administrator: supporting stra tegic planning and overall management of a simulation center

leader across roles: serving on simulation center advisory boards or on professional organizations.

Resources for clinicians interested in developing simulation-based clinical education include professional organizations, certification, conferences, continuing education courses, and certificate and academic degree programs.

A new direction for you?

The continued development of simulation as a safe and effective method for practicing clinical skills will call for additional educators with expertise in healthcare simulation. HSE roles offer meaningful and exciting career opportunities for nurses and other healthcare professionals. Perhaps the role of HSE is in your future.

Deborah Lindell is the director of the graduate entry nursing program and associate professor of nursing at Case Western Reserve University’s Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing in Cleveland, Ohio. Kathleen Poindexter is an assistant professor and clinical nursing specialist-education concentration program coordinator at Michigan State University’s College of Nursing in East Lansing. Debra Hagler is a clinical professor and coordinator for the scholarship of teaching and learning in the College of Nursing & Health Innovation at Arizona State University in Phoenix.

Selected References

Alexander M, Durham CF, Hooper JI, et al. NCSBN simulation guidelines for prelicensure nursing programs. J Nurs Reg. 2015; 6(3):39-42.

Gaba DM. The future vision of simulation in health care. Qual Saf Health Care. 2004;13 (suppl 1):i2-i10.

Huang YM, Rice J, Spain A, Palaganas JC. Terms of reference. In: Palaganas JC, Maxworthy JC, Epps CA, Mancini ME, eds. Defining Excellence in Simulation ProgramsPhiladelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2015; xxi-xxxiv.

Institute of Medicine. Crossing the Quality Chasm: A New Health System for the 21st Century. Washington, DC: National Academy Press; 2001.

Jeffries PR. Getting in S.T.E.P. with simulations: simulations take educator preparation. Nurs Educ Perspect. 2008;29(2):70-3.

National League for Nursing Vision Series. Debriefing Across the Curriculum: A Living Document from the National League for Nursing in collaboration with the International Nursing Association for Clinical Simulation and Learning (INACSL). April 20, 2015.

Sittner BJ, Aebersold ML, Paige JB, et al. INACSL standards of best practice for simulation: past, present, and future. Nurs Educ Perspect. 2015;36(5):294-8.

Standards of best practice: Simulation. Clin Simulat Nurs. 2013;9(suppl 6).