Mannequin Simulations in Nursing Education


Nursing is a complex field of studies that comprises several integral components, serving to form a uniform framework that supports public health. In addition to the practical implementation of nursing skills in patient examination and treatment, there is another key aspect that requires an emphasis today. More specifically, the concept of nursing education (including lifelong learning) is essential for the formation of a resilient framework, in which professionals’ work aligns with the needs of modern communities. One of the key competencies to be nurtured in this regard is related to advanced interpersonal skills. Nurses should be able to find the most optimal means of communication with their patients, not feeling at a loss in difficult situations. For this purpose, an intervention based on the use of mannequin simulations is expected to yield substantial results. This report outlines the details of a pilot project that will illustrate the effectiveness of the method.

Problem Background

Interpersonal skills have been gaining additional importance in contemporary nursing. In this field, researchers differentiate two sets of competencies, which are clinical and communicative (Kang et al., 2021). The first type of skills forms the cornerstone of the practice, as it refers to the core professional competence of a nurse. According to Kang et al. (2021), their development has a positive effect on the clinical satisfaction level, academic performance, and turnover intention. However, more supervisors report that the clinical skills of many aspiring nurses remain inadequate. Kang et al. (2021) state that advanced interpersonal competencies play a major mitigating role in the formation of such core skills. Students that excel in this regard are more confident in professional terms, as they easily navigate between a variety of situations. They are capable of making correct clinical decisions, guided by their high interpersonal skills. The PICOT question that drives the intervention is: “In nursing students between 26 and 40 years old (P) how does simulation using mannequins (I) compare to other teaching techniques like conferences and self study (C) in providing interpersonal skills to students (O) during one academic school year (T)?”.

Pilot Project Description

The pilot project of the intervention aims to implement it in a practical environment, in order to evaluate the applicability of the method. For this purpose, a pilot test group of 25 nursing students is to be recruited, along with 2 educators. They will experience the modified curriculum, in which mannequin-based simulations will be held on a regular basis. In the current form, the proposed intervention is aimed at a distance of one academic year. However, it may be counterproductive to prolongate the pilot tests for an entire year. It is assumed that half of that time, or one semester, will suffice to conduct evaluations and make informed decisions regarding the feasibility of the project. Considering the nature of the intervention, it cannot be performed in a remote form. Instead, the students will physically attend the premises of the institution for practical simulations. They will run different practice-based scenarios in order to familiarize themselves with such settings.

For the curriculum change management, the ADKAR model is proposed. It will be implemented throughout the pilot project to facilitate the transition toward a new model (Wong et al., 2019). Table 1 illustrates the details and timeline of the execution process. The completion of these steps will support the implementation of the intervention, helping students and educators attain positive results.

Table 1. ADKAR Model of Change Management

Step Participants Action Plan Timeline
Awareness Faculty and all nursing students Spread pamphlets regarding the new interpersonal skill program plans 1 month (pre-pilot)
Desire Interested students, one faculty participant Hold a lecture regarding the benefits of the proposed intervention 2 hours, held 2 weeks prior to the pilot project start
Knowledge Students enrolled in the program Theoretical introduction to the pilot program 1 month
Ability Students enrolled in the program Practical simulations using mannequins 4.5 months
Reinforcement Students enrolled in the program Final practice tests and evaluation 2 weeks

Pilot Project Stakeholders

The purpose of the pilot project is to demonstrate its efficiency and benefits to the stakeholders on three main levels. First of all, on an individual level, the nursing students eligible for the intervention are the main stakeholders. The success of the implementation largely depends on their satisfaction with the outcome of the program. As long as they perceive it as useful for their clinical competence, positive results will follow. Second, the educational organization will serve as a group stakeholder on an institutional level, represented by both faculty and management. Their interest in the outcome revolves around the increase in students’ competency level, which reflects the efforts of the institution. Third, a global stakeholder in the form of the entire nursing framework exists. If the project successfully completes its mission, the entire system will benefit from better interpersonal skills of nurse practitioners.

Engagement Promotion Strategies

One of the vital steps toward the successful implementation of the pilot project is related to engaging the key stakeholder into it. More specifically, this includes the students who are targeted by the intervention. The key strategy is to raise the awareness of interpersonal competencies as a vital skill for a modern nurse. This strategy will be executed in the course of preliminary preparations before the start of the pilot project. The usefulness of the program will be delivered through practical examples in which the lack of communicative awareness became hurtful for the clinical process. These points will be introduced in the pamphlets and elaborated on in the preliminary lecture presentations.

Supporting Practice Guidelines

The modern standards of the nursing practice support the integral status of interpersonal skills. This point of view is reflected in the article by Kaur (2020) who refers to a variety of cases, in which this aspect is useful. Active listening, positive communication, and bond creation are possible through better interpersonal skills of practitioner. The dogmas of modern nursing revolve around the patient as a central figure in the process. From orientation to the identification of needs and relationship termination, a nurse is expected to demonstrate excellent interpersonal skills that will help them establish a rapport with each individual. The use of mannequin simulations in an educational context is increasingly recognized, which supports the choice of intervention (Haerling, 2018). Therefore, the pilot project complies with the current guidelines of the practice standards.

Organizational Resource Need

On behalf of the organization, there is need for certain resources, although the pilot is not expected to be expensive. First of all, the mannequins themselves are to be provided by the institution. For the practical studies, the number of them is expected to be in the range from five to eight items. Next, the organization will provide a room where the course will take place and mannequins will be kept. In order to improve the efficiency of the process, the faculty will delegate one assistant who will help the course leader with the preparation and execution of the project. Finally, some informational support will be welcome for the project. It will rely on the institution’s communication channels to deliver the key information to students and have them engaged in the project.

Measurement of the Results

Interpersonal skills are not easily measured, as they barely possess any quantifiable properties. In this regard, the project will rely on a sequence of evaluations, both objective and subjective. On day one of the pilot test, each participant will complete special questionnaire that will reflect their ability to communicate, such as social anxiety level. The students’ self-perception will be considered, as well as the objective data of different scales to be selected further. Similar procedures will be repeated at the halfway point, three months into the final project. Then, a comprehensive evaluation will be completed at the last stage of the pilot implementation. The changes in results will illustrate whether the intervention has had an observable effect on the participants.


Overall, interpersonal skills are a matter of paramount importance for modern nurse practitioners. The guidelines of the profession encourage the development of such competencies within the framework of patient-centered care. Therefore, the proposed intervention is expected to align with the general trends within the field. The use of mannequins across an academic school year will nurture these interpersonal skills, preparing students for a variety of complex real-life situations. The six-month pilot project will showcase the effect of the intervention in a limited scope, allowing for precise evaluations and subsequent modifications prior to a wider launch.


Haerling, K. A. (2018). Cost-utility analysis of virtual and mannequin-based simulation. Simulation in Healthcare: The Journal of the Society for Simulation in Healthcare, 13(1), 33–40.

Kang, K., Lee, M., & Cho, H. (2021). Interpersonal skills mediate the relationship between communicative and clinical competencies among nursing students: A descriptive study. Nurse Education Today, 99, 104793. Web.

Kaur, B. (2020). Interpersonal communications in nursing practice – Key to quality health care. Archives of Nursing Practice and Care, 6(1), 19–22. Web.

Wong, Q., Lacombe, M., Keller, R., Joyce, T., & O’Malley, K. (2019). Leading change with ADKAR. Nursing Management, 50(4), 28-35.

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