As part of The School of Nursing’s dedication to educate students to be caring, competent and qualified to practice with diverse populations in constantly changing environments, Northern Michigan University provides students with Simulation experiences.

What is Simulation?

Simulation is an active learning strategy that engages students to practice simulated patient care in a safe environment posing no risk to real patients1. It entails the replication of patient conditions using life-like patient simulator manikins.  In nursing education, simulation represents real patient scenarios that are designed to enable students to practice combining theoretical knowledge with clinical skills within a controlled environment2.

Why Use Simulation in Nursing Education?

The landmark Institute of Medicine (IOM) report, To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System, recommends the use of simulation as a strategy to improve patient safety and quality of care3.

Simulation is learner centered1,2

  • Enables students to practice in safe, non-threatening environment
  • Enhances nursing skill performance
  • Builds teamwork and effective communication
  • Refines critical thinking
  • Promotes clinical reasoning
  • Reinforces clinical judgement and decision making skills

History and progression of NMU Simulation:

NMU obtained its’ first patient simulator, SimMan™, in 2006.  Around that same time, we were able to furnish and purchase simulation supplies from a generous donation from John and Cathi Drake which has enabled countless adult medical/surgical simulations.  The Drakes decided to donate to NMU School of Nursing after an NMU nursing student, Naomi Benda, performed lifesaving CPR and emergency first aid on Cathi Drake at a restaurant.

In 2007 SimBaby™ was purchased for pediatric simulation and has been used for well-child and respiratory hospitalization care.  A low fidelity birthing simulator, Noelle™ was purchased, proceeded by our high-fidelity Noelle™ in 2008.  High-fidelity five-year-old Gaumard Hal™ was added to our Sim Family in 2010 and has been used for pediatric simulations including post-surgical care, emphasizing care and communication dynamics with a hospitalized child. 

In 2012 our one-year-old Gaumard Hal™ was purchased and has been used for well-child and post musculoskeletal surgical traction simulations.  Additionally, in 2012, SimMan 3G™ was purchased and is capable of portraying the most realistic patient with capabilities such as speaking, blinking, heart/lung sounds, and sweating, to name a few.  SimMan 3G™ has been invaluable to student’s simulation experiences here at NMU though simulations such as cardiac arrest, trauma, and other medical surgical scenarios.  Our latest additions include Vital Sim™ and Sim Jr™ purchased in 2015 and Victoria™ in 2016 who is the latest, most advanced high-fidelity obstetric and birthing simulator.  

IN 2016-2017, the School of Nursing had a record of 1,567 student simulation experiences for the year. Our continued growth resulted in the need for increased space. In the summer of 2017, NMU administration, the College of Health Sciences and Professional Studies and the School of Nursing collaborated in designing a new space for simulation. Today, we proudly present our new six-room simulation lab located in 2612 West Science.

With a total of 10 patient simulators, trained staff, and realistic patient settings, Northern Michigan University is equipped to provide students with high quality active learning experiences to diverse populations in constantly changing environments.


1Billings, D. M., & Halstead, J. (2016). Teaching in nursing: A guide for faculty (5th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier.

2Bland, A. J., Topping, A., & Wood, B. (2011). A concept analysis of simulation as a learning strategy in the education of undergraduate nursing students. Nurse Education Today, 31(7), 664–670.

3Kohn, L. T., Corrigan, J., & Donaldson, M. S. (2000). To err is human: Building a safer health system. Washington, D.C: National Academy Press.