Janelle Sokolowich, Western Governors University’s (WGU) academic vice president and dean for the Michael O. Leavitt School of Health, recently shared insights into simulation in nursing education at The Sim Café, a podcast by Innovative SimSolutions focused on innovative ideas for simulation and reimagining its use in clinical education. In conversation with Deb Tauber, founder and CEO of Innovative SimSolutions, and Jerrod Jeffries, founder and CEO of Beaker Health, Sokolowich shared her journey in the field of nursing simulations while also emphasizing on how WGU is removing barriers to expand equity and access via adoption of simulation technologies in high-quality health and nurse education programs.
“As someone who has been associated with the fields of nursing and higher education, I believe that simulation techniques for nursing education remove the veil of fear and confusion to create equal opportunities for assessment,” said Sokolowich. “A classroom is a controlled, sterile space, while simulation labs are where the real knowledge and expertise come to light because the “patient” factor, in some form, is always there. Such simulations spark the patient-first superpower that lies within each nurse. I see simulation being at the core of education strategy to impact healthcare at scale for tackling the current nursing crisis in the United States.”
The American Nurses Association estimates the demand for new registered nurses in the U.S. to reach 1.2 million by 2030. With the expansion of the prelicensure degree program coupled with partnerships with healthcare employers in several states as well as the plan to establish simulation labs across the country, WGU’s Leavitt School of Health is steadily progressing to become an all-inclusive school that yields well-prepared, competent health professionals to tackle the nursing shortage.
Sokolowich also suggested the need to push horizons and challenge capabilities with improved simulation assessments for upskilling and reskilling the nursing workforce at all levels, including at the nurse practitioner level. Elaborating on the lessons learned because of the pandemic, she shared that adopting simulation in education is the only way to meet the students in their communities to elevate the patient outcomes, especially when it comes to transforming the health landscape of rural America.
Sharing her journey from studying at a small suburban school to gradually working with one of the largest, online, non-profit, schools of health in the country, Sokolowich expressed that simulations are the future of health and nursing and WGU’s competency-based model proactively adopts these innovative solutions to nurture diversity in its programs.