Home Volume: 2, Issue: Supplement 1
International Journal of Healthcare Simulation
Adi Health+Wellness
Using online simulation to prepare mental health nursing students for practice
DOI:10.54531/OLGF7296, Volume: 2, Issue: Supplement 1, Pages: A45-A46
Article Type: Editorial, Article History





Demand for mental health nursing staff is rising with a drop-in staff of 8% in the last 10 years [1]. Preparing the future NHS healthcare workforce is therefore a vital component of educational delivery for Higher Education Institutions [2]. With funding Health Education England, the aim of this pilot project was to evaluate whether an online simulated learning programme helped students feel more prepared for their final placement in practice before qualifying.


19 final year mental health nursing students participated in a one-day online simulated learning environment programme which focused on difficult conversations and complex communication scenarios, in partnership with an external organisation. It focused on introducing a bespoke context to develop clinically relevant skills, knowledge, and experience, complementing the range of clinical placements opportunities required by the nurses training curriculum. They were then asked to complete the Human Factor Skills for Healthcare Instrument [3].


Participants showed a 7% increase in confidence in Human Factors Skills measured by the Human Factors Skills for Healthcare Instrument from their pre-course (M=93.54) and post-course (M=102.27) scores. Participants also showed a 9% increase in scores in the course specific questions relating to the learning objectives from their pre-course (M=50.86) and post-course (M=57.15) scores. We were unable to conduct paired samples t-tests due to the limited number of participants completing both the pre- and post-evaluation survey. Lastly, 100% of participants responded that they would recommend this course to others.


The course is a novel and innovative training method for providing clinical experience to undergraduate nursing students to develop relevant skills and knowledge that complement their placements. The findings demonstrate that participants achieved a variety of learning outcomes including improved confidence in human factors skills and improved confidence across the learning objectives, covering de-escalation skills, working in a multidisciplinary team, identifying mental illness presentation, handover, and referral among other skills. This raft of benefits following training are likely to have a positive impact on interactions with service users or those experiencing mental illness, although further research into this impact would be of great interest.


1. Royal College of Nursing (2022) ‘There is no quick solution to the nurse staffing crisis’. https://www.rcn.org.uk/news-and-events/news/uk-there-is-no-quick-solution-to-the-nurse-staffing-crisis-091220 [Accessed on 19/06/2022]

2. Topal review: NHS (Feb 2019) Preparing the healthcare workforce to deliver the digital future. https://topol.hee.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/HEE-Topol-Review-2019.pdf [Accessed on 19/06/2022]

3. Reedy G, Lavelle M, Simpson T, Anderson J. Development of the Human Factors Skills for Healthcare Instrument: a valid and reliable tool for assessing interprofessional learning across healthcare practice settings. BMJ Simulation and Technology Enhanced Learning. 2017;3(4):135–141.