What can virtual patient simulation offer mental health nursing education?

J Psychiatr Ment Health Nurs. 2012 Jun;19(5):410-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2850.2011.01797.x. Epub 2011 Nov 1.


This paper discusses the use of simulation in nursing education and training, including potential benefits and barriers associated with its use. In particular, it addresses the hitherto scant application of diverse simulation devices and dedicated simulation scenarios in psychiatric and mental health nursing. It goes on to describe a low-cost, narrative-based virtual patient simulation technique which has the potential for wide application within health and social care education. An example of the implementation of this technology in a web-based pilot course for acute mental health nurses is given. This particular virtual patient technique is a simulation type ideally suited to promoting essential mental health nursing skills such as critical thinking, communication and decision making. Furthermore, it is argued that it is particularly amenable to e-learning and blended learning environments, as well as being an apt tool where multilingual simulations are required. The continued development, implementation and evaluation of narrative virtual patient simulations across a variety of health and social care programmes would help ascertain their success as an educational tool.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Computer-Assisted Instruction / methods*
  • Education, Distance / methods*
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / nursing*
  • Patient Simulation*
  • Problem-Based Learning / methods
  • Psychiatric Nursing / education*
  • United Kingdom
  • User-Computer Interface
  • Video Games