Nurses learn in virtual hospital

New software creates realistic life and death scenarios for CC nursing students


Centralia College nursing students are some of the first to use new software that transports them into a virtual hospital room with a sick patient. Through trial and error, they must make critical decisions with a click of the mouse. Racing against time, students must make the right decisions in the right order. One wrong click could cost the patient his life!

This exciting new vSIM software was purchased and implemented for the first time this year in Centralia College’s nursing program, thanks to the generous gift of an anonymous donor. Because vSIM is relatively new in the field of nursing education, Centralia College’s nursing program is one of the few nursing programs offering this option.

The vSIM software gives nursing students an opportunity to experience emergency situations and to test their nursing skills in realistic situations—and, as one nursing student jokingly said, “all without causing any harm to real patients!”

The beauty of this individualized program is that it is designed to help students improve. In each medical scenario, students make critical decisions, get valuable feedback, learn from their mistakes, and repeat the scenario as many times as needed to reach the desired score/proficiency.

“I think getting to practice the scenario multiple times is what I found most helpful,” said one student. “When I completed vSIM for the first time, I was slow and found myself wondering what to do next. I think the repetition is what made the difference. By the fourth time of doing vSIM, I was way quicker and more productive…it definitely affected how I reacted during our (traditional) simulation lab.”

It’s definitely not a game, though. Students say the tension and anxiety they feel is very real.

“The simulation does a good job of creating realistic scenarios. There’s a little bit of tension and the interaction is great.” Other students agree that the program has helped them to “conquer fears in different scenarios.”

One student sums it up well: “The vSIM is beneficial in many areas. Not only does it give great simulation experience with the sights and sounds that accompany it, but it also provides great resources before, during, and after the simulation. This product provides superior preparation for the following day’s simulation, as well as education that I can take with me into the healthcare environment.”

Ellen Hinderlie, assistant nursing professor, often assigns students a virtual scenario to work on prior to the next day’s simulation lab. She said the nursing program was considering purchasing the $5,000 vSIM program, but did not have enough funds. It was a timely gift from an anonymous donor that made the purchase of the vSIM software with the medical/surgical package possible.

Hinderlie wants the donor to know what a difference that gift has made: “Thank you very much for your generous gift! It has been put to excellent use!” The first and second year nursing students are unanimous in their appreciation for the gift.

“I am beyond thankful to have the opportunity to use the equipment you provided,” one student shares. “Thank you!”


One Comment

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  1. Thank you for writing and posting this great article about the Nursing Department’s use of vSIM for student education! It’s a wonderful new technology that is so beneficial to student learning and is making a big difference in the students’ clinical practices and learning outcomes. We are blessed to be able to use it thanks to the very generous gift of the donor. Ellen Hinderlie, Assistant Professor of Nursing, Centralia College

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