Throughout the semester I have been focusing on the problem of practice related to the effective use of technology in nursing simulation. With the possibility of simulation replacing some student time in the clinical setting, we most utilize our resources appropriately to create a realistic environment for students to practice their nursing skills. Technology will play a large part in this endeavor and the testing described in this report will improve our progress on the knowledge of what technology works well and what practices require further design.
I already have some concerns within this first stage of testing. The initial test within this phase of the design process required the use of six laptops, one tablet, two webcams and one Polycom Video Conferencing System. This is a lot of technology for one simulation space. If we expand to further rooms in the future, this equipment setup will be difficult to maintain with our current device inventory and staff availability. To further complicate this, the technical setup was very complex with little flexibility for error. Audio, video, patient monitor control, manikin control and control of the tablet at the head of the patient’s bed all relied on a stable network connection and specific device settings. The complications with setup were observed by the simulation lab coordinator and other staff, but thankfully not by the simulation participants.
The simulation participants did have two major points of feedback related to technology and they were related to the tablet at the head of the bed and the manikin. It was explained that the tablet was too small and difficult to read or in one case forgotten all together. The comment related to the manikin was that it was difficult to engage with the manikin as in-depth as one could with a real person. It was extremely helpful to have a group discussion with the simulation participants regarding their experience and it was also helpful the review the recording following the event to observe the interactions with technology and how it worked throughout the simulation.
To minimize points of possible technology failure I have several suggestions. To begin with, the installation of a one-way mirror between the observation room and the simulation room would eliminate the need for a video conferencing setup. I had planned to use the video conferencing recording for debriefing with students, but the system was far too slow at producing the video to rely on this technology. An audio/video system designed for this type of recording would need to be installed to make this sustainable. While installing the one-way mirror, it would also be valuable to hardwire the connection between the patient monitor and manikin to the PC controlling these devices. Ideally we would like to have actors available to play patients, but when this is not possible we must have technology fill the void. Technology will still be necessary in our most ideal setup and so we must continue to restart the design process while reevaluating our simulation environment.