Advantages and Disadvantages of Human Patient Simulation
By:  Camilla Martinez

    When speaking of Human Patient Simulators, some of the advantages include increased availability. When an educator would like students to work with patients they can use the simulator! For educators, simulators are becoming more obtainable as compared to clinical sites for students. It is becoming harder and harder for schools to find clinical sites to assist with student learning. Patient safety is on the forefront of educating students therefore the use of HPS. This gives the learner real life scenarios and possible patient symptoms with nursing implications without risk. A patient in the acute, sub-acute, clinic, or long-term facility may feel at risk when a student is working with him/her. Through the use of a facilitator, students are introduced to possible happenings in these types of settings. Clients can feel at ease since students are more comfortable with the care they provide. One has the ability to paint a picture for the pupil and be free of the danger of a poor patient outcome. After practicing possible patient situations students may note scenarios which may be be incorporated into several types of settings. HPS may be used by people from nursing programs, graduate schools, and by employees who may already be working in the healthcare setting.

CPR Task Trainer

     The first time I was introduced to HPS was during the skills task of CPR training. This would technically be called a task trainer (as shown above). Understandably, the task trainer is used for simple everyday jobs a nurse may need to complete. Due to the high cost of simulators, use of task trainers may includes a more technical purpose. However, simulators may not be useful in completion of some tasks due to the sensitive materials they are made from. During ACLS, drill type activities were conducted. Through the use of simulation healthcare providers were provided the needed practice. One scenario was a mock code. The practice made the daunting task of being part of a code situation more manageable. Each healthcare provider had his or her role and was able to perform. This was a relief to have the ability to prepare prior to actually being involved in a code situation.

     Some advantages of simulation include a decrease in the “fear factor” for students after working with sim. The more practice a student has with clinical decision making the better. One can become comfortable with making decisions about patient care. Critical thinking skills can be honed with the use of simulation. Experimentation with real life people is discouraged although may be utilized while working with an HPS. Scenarios are methodical which may be an easier way to assess competencies with student objectives.

     Some disadvantages of simulation are the cost of the equipment and supplies. Needed materials must be in stock and this involves a faculty member to make sure this happens. This person must account for items along with placing those items in the proper storage. The reality is this is not an actual human; the science of nursing which involves caring may not be employed while working with a mannequin. A large part of nursing involves personal interaction. This part may be lacking while working in the lab. Using discretion during practice may fall by the way side because of the use of the simulators. Modesty may not be at the forefront of care when working with a simulator. It may be difficult to remember patient privacy and importance of HIPPA. Real life patients and family members may find themselves to be stressed which can add pressure on the nurse. Since the simulation is in a controlled environment, the scenario may not be as true to life.

Noelle Maternity Simulator

     This birthing mother simulator (shown above) is a wireless birthing manikin designed to exhibit the entire birthing experience. Learners are exposed to a variety of birthing scenarios, such as shoulder dystocia, breech delivery, and postpartum hemorrhage. Noelle can transition her physiological state quickly via changes on a wireless PC. Her physiological changes can be monitored on a maternal monitor that tracks her vital signs as well as the fetal heart rate.  This is one type of simulator that was used in my graduate studies.

Combat Simulation - It all started with combat medic simulation!


CPR task trainer image retrieved from:

Noelle information/image retrieved from:

Middle Tennessee State University (2007). SimMan a dummy on a mission in MTSU's nursing program. Retrieved July 1, 2008 from

Combat simulation image retrieved from:

Comment Stream

a year ago

My final message includes your story on simulation usage-or lack thereof!