To organize an effective simulation based learning (SBL) -event requires careful planning and scripting to reveal learners frameworks and to optimize their performance and learning.

It is essential, that the learning objectives in simulation are outlined before participating in the scenario to provide direction for learners, that learning can occur and the clinical thinking process can develop. It is important, that the learning objectives align with the learners’ academic and professional preparedness. The first phase of the learning experience in SBL is briefing. It establishes performance expectations, shows the capabilities of the simulation environment, and generally prepares for the experience. (Dieckmann et al. 2007). Page-Cutrara (2014) describes briefing as a phase for the learners´ preparation to enable them to engage fully in the learning and to develop complex thinking skills and clinical judgment. In briefing learners need to be given instructions and guidance for example as follows:

Click here to read about pre-briefing learners instructions and guidance

  • An explanation of the SBL as a safe learning method and an atmosphere to openly discuss decision-making and performance. It is important the confidentiality of the simulation is agreed upon and information revealed during the debriefing are not allowed to discuss in other contexts. Learners are also reminded that simulation requires respect for all participants, standardized patients’ (SP´s), instructors and peers.
  • Learners are informed about the learning objectives. Examples of the learning objectives may include e.g. “the learner is able to recognize a changing or critical situation”, “the learner can handle a difficult patient or family member” or “the learner is aware of safety nursing techniques”.
  • Introduction of the scenario with a short background information on the topic and technical content of the scenario.
  • The amount of information specific to the simulation (e.g. content, available resources) should be considered, due to too much information in advance may not support learning
  • Giving the learners an opportunity to plan and prepare for roles in the simulation scenario including deciding the order in which to work, is similar to clinical practice when nurses have an opportunity to read patient notes prior to planning care.
  • The learners’ roles division to hands-on participants and observers. The hands-on participants interact with the patient or client in the simulated environment, while the observers watch live footage of the simulation on a screen in an adjacent room.
  • It should be stated that the simulation environment is not real and thus the experience requires participants to agree to suspend disbelief and accept simulation elements as reality.
  • Concentration more on the team’s and learners’ performance expectations than the technical or individual aspects of the experience. Putting less attention on the instructors, environment and technology shifts the learners’ focus to their clinical skills and decision-making, allowing for learning to occur.

Glossary of terms


Activities completed just prior to the simulation experience to facilitate achievement of the learning objectives. Includes the learning objectives, content of the simulation, opportunity to become familiar with the learning environment, equipment, and the simulator’s functions. If unfamiliar with the method, the learners are also informed about simulation-based learning. Instructions of the simulation scenario are described to the learners, such as patients’ medical histories, and the current situation with the patient. The participants’ roles are divided to actors (hands-on role) and observers and expectations of the simulation emphasised.

Patient / Client Vignettes

These short vignettes describe patients/clients with diverse characteristics and diverse needs.  While reading these, consider how you could  incorporate such perspectives into simulation-based learning scenarios.

Man with hearing aid

Transgender person

27 year old lesbian woman

Rosaleen Mc Donagh, a 52-year-old traveller lady was admitted to the medical ward with unstable blood sugars.

Aamil Saab, a 62-year-old Muslim gentleman who has resided in Cork for five years was admitted to the acute coronary unit with a myocardial infraction

Emma, 2 years, suffers from recurrent otitis media i.e. ear infection. She also suffers from recurrent respiratory infections.

Martti 88 years has cardiovascular diseases, including hypertension and diabetes, and has gout.

Learner, Patient and Tutor Testimonials

In this section we have provided real feedback from those involved in the simulation training. We hope these give an insight into some of the process and practices involved

Standardized Patient Katri Laitinen (Savonia University of Applied Sciences)

Bachelor’s Degree Programme in Nursing – student Kathryn Tourunen (Savonia University of Applied Sciences)

Video Guides

Expert opinions from academic and clinical leads discussing their perspective on the importance of cultural awareness in medical simulation training.

Advice center

Oamk SimLab – Simulation environments in Oulu University of Applied Sciences

Oulu University of Applied Sciences has a versatile simulation and studio environment ecosystem – Oamk SimLab, which is used in education, training, and as well for testing future health technology products and welfare services.

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The first studios were established in 2009. At first, we trained teachers as simulation instructors and integrated simulations into emergency training of nurse, midwifery and public health nurse education courses. The second, our focus was to develop patient/ client/ family centred interprofessional (IP) team training by using simulation education. Today we have IP simulation courses integrated in curricula of medical and all health care study programs.

PhD, Senior Lecturer Tiina Tervaskanto-Mäentausta from OAMK made her dissertation some time ago about simulation and is very eager to develop simulation pedagogy more. “Why not to use simulations more in learning to care for the ethnic people, gender and age based questions and everyday life of disabled and older people. We have already integrated simulations to social care education and have some examples of scenarios about ethnic family with children and also scenarios of child protection cases. We also have developed a special “enabled home” environment to train and probe suitable technology to live at home when there are problems in everyday life.”

Tiina also adds that training in SimLab is effective. “ Based on the students’ feedback, training in simulation environment with real life scenarios is effective. Students have so far started to trust and respect on different types of expertise and learned patient/ client/ family centred care and services. In the future society, students need competencies to solve complicated problems of the people, often using mobile connections. More and more important is to learn social skills, how to communicate, how to face people with different background. In simulation students can use all their senses while they act, observe and reflect; the future pedagogy turns more and more into active learning methods and into digital and authentic environments. In Oulu we are connected to OuluHealth Network to share and learn to work together for the healthier future.”

Design from Oulu – Oamk SimLab