Nursing simulations as learning strategy between fiction and reality: a narrative literature review

  • Chiara Zangari Università degli Studi di Roma Tor Vergata
  • Andrea Gazzelloni Ospedale Pediatrico Bambino Gesù
  • Luisa Cirulli Ospedale Pediatrico Bambino Gesù
  • Giuliana D'Elpidio Ospedale Pediatrico Bambino Gesù
  • Giuseppe La Torre Università degli Studi di Roma Sapienza
Keywords: Simulation, nursing, student, teaching, fidelity, manikin, review


Background: Nursing simulation is a training method that allows students to anticipate or amplify real situations with guided experiences. It is a learning strategy that based on experience and allows to gain technical skills, develop critical thinking and clinical judgment, and to work on emotions and self-confidence. The simulation was born in the military field, in 1928, when Edward Albert Link invented the first flight simulator. Since the 1930s, simulation was applied to the health field to train and prepare health workers for a safer practice, without harming the patients.

Methods: A narrative review was conducted with the aim to verify the effectiveness of the use of simulation as a learning strategy in the nursing university degree, alongside traditional teaching methods, in terms of effects on students and his knowledge. The following databases were consulted: Pubmed, Cinahl, Embase, in the period from September 2019 to January 2020.

Results: 18 articles relevant to the research question were obtained. In these studies, the simulation was evaluated in different aspects. In particular, 10 articles dealed with the psychological aspect of simulation, 2 articles with the inter-professionalism issues and with the collaboration in a multidisciplinary team, 2 with the role of briefing, 2 with the differences between high and low fidelity simulation, 2 with the role of the tutor, and 2 with the topic of debriefing.

Conclusions: The studies analyzed encourage the use of active techniques such as simulation, useful for stimulating reasoning and practical skills. For this reason, universities should offer students a training path that includes simulation. Furthermore, the numerous and increasingly declared clinical errors in healthcare, due to the human factor, and an ever greater use of technology in the daily practice, could make it appropriate and desirable to invest in simulation as a strategy for improving care practice.