Maximizing Simulation Using a GoPro

Maximizing Simulation Using a GoPro

Written by Samantha Fischbach, MSN, RN, CHPN
Nursing Faculty/Simulation Lab Manager at Lake Area Technical College

Published August 2022

Greetings! My name is Samantha Fischbach, and I currently hold the position of Nursing Faculty/Simulation Lab Manager at Lake Area Technical College in Watertown, SD. I received my BSN from South Dakota State University in 2010, my MNEd from Kaplan University in 2016, and am nearing the end of my PhD in nursing from South Dakota State University. My specialty areas are palliative care, hospice, and end-of-life topics; in addition, I am a certified hospice and palliative nurse. I will be beginning my tenth year in nursing education this fall and have enjoyed every minute of it. What makes my job even better are the 13 amazing colleagues that I get to work with and learn from every day. It is truly a team effort, and I could not do my job without them.

Working alongside some amazing individuals, I also have the privilege and honor of teaching for one of the top two-year colleges in the nation! Lake Area Technical College houses 31 degree programs. Within several of those programs, hybrid edegrees are also available. For individuals seeking a nursing degree specifically, Lake Area Tech has both practical nursing and associate degree nursing programs. For the practical nursing program, the full-time options are 11 months either on campus or online (starting each August), and the part-time options are 22 months either on campus or online (starting each January). For the registered nursing program, the full-time option has only been offered in person; however, starting in Fall 2022, we will have our very first cohort of RN online students starting. At any given time, we have ≈150+ nursing students attending Lake Area Tech on campus or online.

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, the world came to standstill, and healthcare changed drastically in a matter of days. We left for spring break in March 2020, then we were told that we would not be returning to campus. For a technical college and a nursing program that relies heavily on hands-on experiences to prepare their students for the workforce, this really hit us hard. As a team, we were scrambling to come up with innovative ideas of how to give our students rich clinical learning experiences while also understanding that they could not come to campus or step foot into a clinical setting. Thanks to a couple of our extremely creative faculty, we came up with a way for students to complete their required simulation experiences while never stepping foot on campus. The answer to this dilemma was the GoPro.

GoPro cameras, which were once primarily used for action shots during sporting activities, were now going to be used to help with nursing simulation…but how? Our faculty came up with an experience that would use real-life avatars played by nursing faculty, Microsoft Teams, and a GoPro to create a realistic scenario where students could interact with and care for a simulated patient. We took one of our built simulation scenarios and tailored it to meet the needs of our now distance students. On simulation day, our students would sign into their scheduled simulation start time via Microsoft Teams. One of our nursing faculty would go through the typical prebriefing process via Microsoft Teams, and then we would move on to the simulation. One nursing faculty member ran the computer and played the voice of the patient in the control room of our simulation center. Another faculty member prepared by attaching a GoPro to themselves, making them the real-life avatar that students would control. Students could see everything the faculty member/avatar saw through the GoPro camera. The faculty member/avatar was ready to begin, so students were in the driver’s seat. Each group of four students had to direct the faculty member/avatar through the simulation, starting at introducing themselves to the patient, then washing their hands, and onward to performing safety checks prior to leaving the patient’s room. Throughout the process, students were evaluated on their guided skill performance and knowledge of content matter.

In one scenario, students identified the patient had phlebitis after assessing the IV site and finding that the site was red. Students appropriately identified the issue, then directed the faculty member/avatar on how to discontinue the IV at that site. The faculty member/avatar would act based on student instruction. To start a new IV line for the patient, the student would direct the faculty member/avatar to find a favorable vein for IV insertion. The faculty member/avatar would then walk to the simulator and palpate until they found a favorable vein. Next, the student would direct the faculty member/avatar through all steps of the IV insertion process; the faculty member/avatar would not move until directed to complete an action by the student. If the student missed a step, the faculty member would skip that step, meaning the student would then have to either correct their action or incorrectly complete the skill. Through this process, we could complete the entire simulation experience while also evaluating the knowledge of the student and meeting all the objectives of the simulation. The corresponding video demonstrates this process with a patient named Susan, who requires an insulin injection.

Since the initial trial of this strategy, we have learned a lot. In past years, online students would learn lab skills on their own at home. In turn, we hoped that when they came to campus, they would have the knowledge to complete these skills successfully. Now using the GoPro, online students can walk through procedures in real time with an instructor present in the comfort of their own homes. If a student is on an extended medical leave, we can give them the same simulation experience as the rest of their peers without having to single them out and remediate one-on-one with faculty at a later date. The pandemic forced us to implement new technologies that we had never used before and to test new strategies in preparing our students for the workforce. I am happy to say that something good did come out of the pandemic in that we have now embraced these new strategies and use them on a weekly basis, contributing to the success of our students.


Samantha Fischbach, MSN, RN, CHPN
Nursing Faculty/Simulation Lab Manager at Lake Area Technical College