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Virtual placements in nursing education

20 June 2024
Volume 33 · Issue 12

Nursing education in the UK requires a significant amount of practical experience and skills gained through clinical placements. However, the COVID-19 pandemic caused a shortage of clinical placement opportunities, creating challenges for universities and placement partners. To address this issue, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) recommended the use of virtual simulated placements to supplement traditional placements.

Virtual placements are virtual clinical placements that use simulation technology to provide nursing students with practical experience in a safe and controlled environment. Students interact with virtual patients through a computer-based simulation platform and receive feedback and guidance from peers and clinical facilitators.

Simulation scenarios are designed to challenge nursing students and develop critical thinking, decision-making and clinical reasoning skills. Evidence shows that simulation-based learning can improve student confidence, knowledge retention, and clinical competence.

Virtual placements provide several benefits to nursing students, universities and placement partners. First, they provide an alternative to traditional clinical placements and overcome capacity issues. Nursing students can complete their clinical hours from anywhere with an internet connection. Second, virtual simulated placements provide a safe and controlled environment for students to develop their clinical skills without putting real patients at risk. Third, they provide a learning experience that reflects the rapidly evolving healthcare landscape, including skills in telehealth, digital health, and virtual care. They also provide an opportunity for nursing students to engage in interprofessional education and improve collaboration with other health professionals. Finally, they offer a cost-effective and sustainable solution to the challenges of traditional clinical placements, as they require fewer resources and provide greater accessibility.

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