Creating and Evaluating Career-Focused Simulation Experiences

Concurrent Session 9

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Learn how Bellevue University and Bryan College of Health Sciences create and evaluate simulated internship and clinical experiences designed to effectively prepare students for their chosen career fields. Engage in active learning with other participants in order to envision and process similar learning experiences for your program, institution, or organization.


Hello! I oversee distance education, general education, and new program development at Bryan College of Heath Sciences. My academic background is in business administration with special focus on healthcare administration. I enjoy and routinely engage in interdisciplinary collaboration. During my career, I have worked in higher education, healthcare, marketing communications, and financial services.
Renea Gernant is a member of the faculty of Bellevue University and the Program Director for programs in communication and lifespan development. In addition to over 25 years of teaching experience, she's served in administration and innovation groups at both the community college and university levels. Her PhD work is in the field of communication and aging and she holds a post-doctoral certificate in gerontology with interests in death and dying, grief, and trauma.

Extended Abstract

In this session, panelists will share their experiences in creating career-focused, workplace simulation activities and discuss the goals, challenges, and value that these educational experiences have for their students, giving consideration into how to best oversee and administer these active learning opportunities in order to ensure effective outcomes. The panelists will also discuss assessment and highlight a tool that programs can use in designing and evaluating career-focused, workplace simulation activities. In discussion, the audience will be invited to brainstorm ideas for their own career-focused virtual or face-to-face simulation environments and to discuss how those ideas could be implemented and assessed based on their own institutional and disciplinary standards.


Career-focused, workplace education is a critical part of the higher education landscape. For instance, in business and communication fields, employers strongly prefer graduates who have internship experiences. In healthcare, practical clinical experiences are necessarily elements of theory application and career preparation. Unfortunately, in providing these experiences, institutions are limited by location and access to specialized workplaces as well as issues related to logistical coordination, on-site supervision needs, and inter-state approval that may need to be obtained. Students may lack the networks or resources to secure their own internship, practicum, or clinical sites. Workplaces themselves are limited by liability issues and state regulations (e.g., some facilities will not allow student nurses to pass medications). As a result, the use of simulated environments has increased as one means for addressing these issues.


In response to the need for hands-on application within the curriculum, both Bellevue University and Bryan College of Health Sciences offer career-focused simulation experiences. Bellevue’s experience comes in the form of virtual internship environment complete with avatars, multiple academic disciplines using same organizational environment, and workplace-style evaluations of student performance. Bryan offers online simulation education to healthcare educators and in-person healthcare skills labs and simulations for healthcare students. In both institutions the experiences are designed to allow students to practice their skills, build credentials relevant to employment, and mature professionally in an environment in which they can both fail and succeed without career-ending ramifications.


Historically, simulation as a means to practice skills in a controlled environment traces back to the need to improve safety in the aviation industry (Moore, 2014; Sexton, Thomas, & Helmreich, 2000). Over time, simulation has been adopted as a principle education modality by the military and in high-risk industries such as nuclear energy and healthcare (Kunkler, 2006; Passiment, Sacks, & Huang, 2011; Sexton et al., 2000). Today, career-focused, workplace simulation activities in higher education have expanded to meet the needs of a changing and global workforce in a variety of technical fields, business, communication and education at large. The practice and efficacy of these kinds of experiences has been documented. For example, the National Council of Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) found that up to 50% of traditional nursing clinical experiences could be substituted with high-quality simulation experiences with no significant differences in student outcomes achievement (Alexander et al., 2015). However, effective experiences require prepared faculty and a program with administrative support and an appropriate simulation environment (Alexander et al., 2015). The goal of this panel is to help faculty, designers, and administrators move toward efficacious career-based simulation programming and an infrastructure that supports it.




Alexander, M., Durham, C. F., Hopper, J.I., Jeffries, P. R., Goldman, N., Kardong-Edgren, S., …Tillman, S. (2015). NCSBN simulation guidelines for prelicensure nursing programs. Journal of Nursing Regulation, 6, 39-42.


Kunkler, K. (2006). The role of medical simulation: An overview. The International Journal of Medical Robotics and Computer Assisted Surgery, 2, 203-210. doi: 10.1002/rcs.101


Moore, K. (2014). Early history of flight simulation: “Gliding” as a form of training. National Center for Simulation. Retrieved from


Passiment, M., Sacks, H., & Huang, G. (2011). Medical simulation in medical education: Results of an AAMC survey. Washington, DC: Association of American Medical Colleges.


Sexton, B., Thomas, E. J., & Helmreich, R. J. (2000). Error, stress, and teamwork in medicine and aviation: Cross sectional surveys. BMJ, 320, 745-749.