Simulation in mental health nurse education: The development, implementation and evaluation of an educational innovation
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Simulation is an important learning approach for the development of skills for healthcare practice. However, it remains under used in the education of mental health practitioners. This article examines the development, implementation and evaluation of a simulated learning experience for final year undergraduate BSc mental health nursing students in the UK. Scenarios involving managing care in an acute in patient ward and community older persons' team were designed to enable students to develop their complex decision making skills. An evaluation of the simulation experience was undertaken. This was informed by the principles of improvement science methodology and data was collected from the student participants using questionnaires. The findings indicated that simulation provided a realistic environment in which students were able to develop skills and manage clinical situations autonomously without fear of being assessed or making mistakes. Reflecting Dieckmann et al.'s (2007) position that simulation is a social situation in itself, the learning approach enabled mental health students to both experience the safety of the Higher Education setting and also the reality of clinical practice. Simulation may therefore provide an important tool to prepare students for the responsibilities of a qualified nurse.