Glimpse into Simulation and Critical Thinking: A Pilot Study Comparing Utah and Ecuador

Katrina Duncan, Patricia K. Ravert*

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Abstract Interviews in Utah and Ecuador explored the perceptions of simulation and critical thinking. Three themes emerged during analysis. High fidelity simulation can be used to develop critical thinking and is used in many Utah nursing education programs, whereas in Ecuador simulation use is in the early stages.

The world of health care is becoming increasingly complex as new treatments, medications, technology, and a greater understanding of conditions evolve by the moment. In both developing and industrialized countries, the nurse fits into this world with a more challenging role than in the past, one requiring a higher level of critical thinking and clinical judgment. New nursing graduates entering the field must, therefore, be better prepared to assume these responsibilities (Lasater, 2007a). The worsening worldwide nursing shortage coupled with the migration trend of nurses, especially in Latin America, coincides with the advancing role of the nurse, augmenting pressure on both nurses and nurse educators. Thus, the use of simulation, specifically to encourage critical thinking, has become a significant aspect in current nursing education in the United States and is in the early stages of development in Latin America.

Confucius said, “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” He recognized that hands-on experience is usually the most effective learning method. Simulation is founded on this idea of doing and practicing. In a variety of disciplines all over the world, simulation has been used for years as pedagogy along with lectures and texts, and the field of nursing is no exception. In nursing, the acquisition of knowledge is not enough; it is the application of knowledge that determines ability and success. Research shows that simulation allows students to retain more knowledge for a longer period of time because they engage in an interactive role that fosters skill acquisition, critical thinking, and confidence (Childs & Sepples, 2006). The purpose of this study was to explore and compare perceptions of the use of simulation in nursing education in an industrialized nation and a developing South American country. Specifically, the study addressed two research questions: (a) what is the role of simulation in nursing education in programs in Utah and Ecuador? and (b) what is the perception of nursing students and new graduates regarding simulation use to improve critical thinking and clinical judgment?

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