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Sim lab difficulties

I am almost done with the first semester of my accelerated BSN program. I have both clinical and simulation lab. In clinical I feel as if I am doing well. My instructor has commented on my attention to detail and ability to conduct a thorough assessment. I've had positive feedback relating to my care plans. I've been able to detect abnormalities with patients that have required further intervention.

Sim lab is a different story. In sim lab we practice different techniques before we can do them on a patient. These include catheters, suctioning, hanging an IV, etc. I am able to do well practicing these skills. We have simulation scenarios that consist of different skills and assessment skills that we've learned. This is where I am having difficulty. I have trouble acting like the dummy is a real person and when I go to act out the simulation while everyone watches and critiques, my mind just draws a blank and I feel paralyzed. I'm definitely not a shy person so I cannot understand what I am doing wrong. I hope that this is not a sign that I will make a horrible nurse. I appreciate any suggestions that you can give me to improve at simulation lab.


Has 2 years experience. Specializes in Med-Surg, Emergency.

I had that problem in school and like to think I'm a pretty good nurse. It's awkward talking to a dummy so I just acted like I was showing someone else the proper technique for a skill or assessment. Took my mind off of the dummy and onto doing what I needed to do. You can do this! :)

Thank you! I hope you are right. I am going to try to look at it more as if I am walking someone through doing the procedure instead of looking at it just as patient care. The part that was flustering to me was that I knew what I had to do in the simulation but I just blanked out once I got so far into it and realized that I missed a step when preparing my sterile field. Thinking it over I think the most important thing to learn from this is that not everything you do is always going to go perfect and sometimes you need to just take a moment to reassess instead of press on.

HouTx, BSN, MSN, EdD

Has 35 years experience. Specializes in Critical Care, Education.

Performance anxiety is a very real thing. The key is to learn to control it - using whatever technique works for you. Frequently, you'll have to put on your 'game face' in a patient situation - maintaining the outward image of a cool & competent professional & masking the "OMG!! AWK!! scaredy cat inside"

Patients take their cues from us. If they see shaking hands and anxiety, they will react accordingly - because they will believe that you are incompetent. Mastering that "onstage" behavior is very important. This is a the time to perfect that skill.


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