Dr. Lori Lioce, a clinical associate professor of nursing at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), has been a steady advocate for increased clinical simulation in nursing education programs. She took part in the development of a program at UAH in 2011 that implemented simulation as a measure of learning for faculty.
The program has since grown into a fundamental part of the College of Nursing’s clinical education curriculum, leading to building the brand new 10,615 square foot Learning and Technology Resource Center (LTRC). Dr. Lioce now serves as executive director of the LTRC as well as vice president of operations for the International Nursing Association for Clinical Simulation and Learning.
Dr. Lioce’s goal at UAH is to train nurses who are capable of assessment, clinical reasoning, communication, taking care of the whole patient, and improving patient safety. She believes the best way to do this is through simulation education, fully immersing students in humanlike high-stakes situations so that clinical educators can better examine critical thinking skills and the reasoning behind students’ actions.
Technology is advancing quickly in the healthcare field, and with such humanlike patient simulators available today, competency in clinical education is soaring. Comparing the advanced simulation technology stored in the LRTC to where she began in simulation education, Dr. Lioce makes a point of how far simulation technology and education has come. Dr. Lioce began her simulation training with one manikin, and she now serves as executive director to the 16-bed hospital lab, 16-table assessment room, four Advanced Practice provider clinical examination rooms, five high-fidelity simulation labs, six high-fidelity manikins, an obstetric/pediatric four-bed lab, IV practice room, Pyxis medication room, home-health simulation room, and four debriefing rooms, all housed in the LTRC.
This exponential growth to UAH’s nursing program has caused a spike in enrollment, with students seeking to avoid the many limitations in higher education from lack of clinical practice and stay ahead of competition for clinical spots in hospitals. According to national studies, regular clinical experience can be replaced by up to 50% simulation education with the same or better outcomes if a standardized framework, trained faculty, and use of best practices are all in place. This means that more nursing students nationwide can be engaged in simulation learning.
Aware of these enlightening statistics, Dr. Lioce is taking on the goal of helping other universities with rapidly growing student rates improve their simulation education programs. She was also selected to organize the first annual International Simulation Symposium in Nursing Education in Istanbul, Turkey this past January. Her presentations at the symposium and at universities around the US include simulation integration, scenario design, standards of best practice, and more.
Focusing on a call to action, Dr. Lioce has already begun educating hundreds of nurses, faculty members, and physicians on the importance of widespread adoption of nursing simulation education across the globe.