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Amidst COVID-19, virtual reality makes “social distancing” simulation possible

By: Sydnee Logan, MA

Leadership of the simulation center at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing has been investigating how to bring virtual simulation to life for some time.

Virtual Simulation and Virtual Reality have a lot of benefits, for example it increases the amount of experiential learning nursing students receive so that new nurses will be better prepared. Virtual reality and virtual simulation can also lead to an increased number of high-quality online programs that allow nurses to remain in the workforce while advancing their education.

L to R: Sandy Swoboda, Nancy Sullivan, Kristen Brown, Catherine Horvath

View photos of the simulation lab and team 

But when the COVID-19 pandemic began the project took on new meaning—it made “social distancing” simulation possible.

Dr. Nancy Sullivan, Clinical Simulation Director

View photos of the simulation lab and team 

“Since March and the beginning of restrictions for in person clinical experiences, traditional clinical and simulation for MSN (Entry Into Nursing) students were conducted virtually to enhance and sometimes replace clinical hours. Virtual or remote simulation also replaced non-direct clinical hours for advanced practice DNP students,” says Nancy Sullivan, DNP, RN, CHSE. Dr. Sullivan is the Clinical Director of Simulation.

From Kristen Brown, DNP, RN, CRNP, CPNP-AC, CHSE-A: “Students continue to train in fully immersive simulations in a safe environment. Also, the multi-player format provides students the opportunity for interprofessional education that would otherwise be unsafe right now.” Dr. Brown is the advanced practice simulation coordinator.

The Next Steps

Johns Hopkins School of Nursing has created a Virtual Reality lab. The simulation team will continue to expand the virtual reality and virtual simulation program to provide a fully immersive opportunity for every program, including the newly launched DNP Nurse Anesthesia and DNP Pediatric Dual Primary/Acute Care Nurse Practitioner programs.

Simulation team at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing

View photos of the simulation lab and team 

Meet the Simulation Team at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing

Nancy Sullivan, DNP, RN, CHSE
Clinical Simulation Director

Sandy Swoboda, RN, MS, FCCM
Master Entry into Nursing Simulation Coordinator

Kristen Brown, DNP, MS, RN, CRNP, CPNP-AC, CHSE-A
Advanced Practice Simulation Coordinator

Catherine Horvath, DNP, MSN, RN, CRNA, CHSE
Nurse Anesthesiology Track Coordinator

Jessica Ockimey
Simulation Specialist

Conor Grace
Simulation Technologist

Mariah Frederick
Simulation Laboratory Technician

Learn more:


Sydnee Logan, MA is the Sr. Social Media and Digital Content Specialist for Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. She connects Hopkins Nurses with the world.

The views and opinions expressed by My Nurse Influencer contributors are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or recommendations of the American Nurses Association, the Editorial Advisory Board members, or the Publisher, Editors and staff of American Nurse Journal. These are opinion pieces and are not peer reviewed.

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