Use of virtual clinical simulation to improve communication skills of baccalaureate nursing students: A pilot study

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Background: According to The Joint Commission (2012), the leading cause of sentinel events in the United States was miscommunication. Lack of thorough and accurate communication remains a serious challenge in healthcare and an educational priority in schools of nursing. Virtual clinical simulation is an online educational approach where students use avatars to practice various skills. Objectives: The purpose of this pilot study was to evaluate the educational innovation of using virtual clinical simulation to improve communication skills of BSN students. The objectives of the simulations were to 1) recognize significant patient data and 2) accurately perform the ISBAR communication technique. Design: The study used a within-group, time-series design with eight students. Students participated in two synchronous virtual simulations in an online virtual clinical environment called CliniSpace™. Students performed in groups of four to five students. Methods: Students performed in two virtual simulations in groups of four to five students. Student performances were scored by two raters using the CliniSpace™ ISBAR Rating Sheet. Field notes from debriefing sessions were analyzed for content. Results: Mean group student performance scores more than doubled from performance one to performance two. This change was found to be statistically significant, p < .001. Field notes revealed that students listened to how their peers communicated and learned from them. Students expressed having less anxiety, knowing what to expect, and having "better flow" with communication. Students verbalized learning to assess the patient prior to calling the physician and to give a recommendation to the physician.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e53-e57
JournalNurse Education Today
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2014



  • Baccalaureate
  • Education
  • Interprofessional
  • Nursing
  • Online
  • Safety
  • Simulation
  • Virtual

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Education

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