By Patricia Wessell
Nursing Department
Delaware Technical Community College
Terry Campus

The beginning

As I began instructing brand new nursing students, I found myself teaching to students with blank stares on their faces. Everything was new and foreign to them, even the words I used. I found myself using words to explain other words and it was obvious that I needed to find another way to help the students think through the content presented in class.

The Ah-ha moment

As first semester nursing students, they did not begin clinical rotations until halfway through the semester. Although they worked in the nursing lab to learn hands-on skills, it didn’t really prepare them to critically think when in the clinical setting. Having attempted case studies, gamification, and other classroom activities, I decided that I needed to bring the clinical setting to them.

The solution

I began my next lecture with the foundational information about oxygenation.  This time, however, instead of using a lot of words to describe breath sounds, I took the students to the simulation lab and utilized the manikin so that they could hear breath sounds and learn to distinguish them from each other.

I utilized scenarios, describing medical conditions that they would see in the hospital, to reinforce the sounds associated with each condition. The National League for Nursing states that simulation is a way to “facilitate high-quality experiences that foster thinking and clinical reasoning.”

The result

The students remained focused and interested. They had their Ah-ha moments! So next semester, I will start off with this plan from the beginning, as I believe it will reduce some of the student’s apprehension their first day in clinical.


National League for Nursing NLN Board of Governors. (2015). A Vision for Teaching with Simulation.

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