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Interprofessional simulation-based learning used to prepare perioperative nursing students for acute situations

Hege Kristin Aslaksen Kaldheim (photo)

Interprofessional simulation-based learning (ISBL) is an essential pedagogical approach in perioperative nursing education, as it develops professional competence and self-efficacy in meeting acute clinical situations.

Hege Kristin Aslaksen Kaldheim

PhD Candidate

Hege Kristin Aslaksen Kaldheim of the Faculty of Health and Sport Sciences has submitted her thesis entitled "Interprofessional simulation-based learning used to prepare perioperative nursing students for acute situations" and will defend the thesis for the PhD-degree Tuesday 11 April 2023.

Summary of the thesis:

Background: Perioperative nursing focuses on care for patients with life-threatening crisis, illness or injury undergoing planned or acute surgery, treatment and/or examination. Performing care requires advanced knowledge and skills to ensure safe outcomes for surgical patients. Perioperative nurses work in interprofessional surgical teams and must develop team skills, such as communication and interprofessional collaboration, as teamwork is an essential component of patient safety. Therefore, perioperative nurses need a distinct form of higher education that builds a close relationship between higher education, science and the profession’s occupational field. Interprofessional simulation-based learning (ISBL) is a pedagogical approach that integrates learning as a task performance, communication technique and collaboration. It involves higher-level learning, such as analysis and problemsolving in problematic scenarios or care settings. Although ISBL is an often-used pedagogical approach in nursing programmes, it still seems under-researched and under-theorised, especially in educating perioperative nurses. Therefore, there appears to be a need for explorative research on arranging ISBL to facilitate perioperative nursing students’ learning, create good learning processes and obtain attended learning outcomes. Furthermore, there is a need for more in-depth knowledge about the learning processes in ISBL. There also seems to be scarce knowledge concerning students’ transfer of professional competence to clinical practice and how ISBL influences future practice.

Aim: The overarching aim of this PhD thesis is to gain knowledge and insight into perioperative nursing students’ learning and development of professional competence using ISBL as a pedagogical approach.

Design, methods and samples: An inductive explorative design and a phenomenological hermeneutical analysis inspired by Ricoeur’s theory were applied in Studies 1 and 3. A descriptive abductive design was employed using directed content analysis in Study 2. The samples in Studies 1 and 2 were students enrolled in a postgraduate (one-and-a-half years) or a master’s degree programme (two years) in perioperative nursing. The samples in Study 3 were newly graduated perioperative nursing students. In Studies 1, 2 and 3, participants were eligible for inclusion if they had participated in ISBL with other students as anaesthetic nursing students during their education and if the ISBL scenario contained an acute situation.

Results: The results revealed critical prerequisites to consider when using this pedagogical approach when planning, preparing and conducting ISBL to support participants’ learning and achieve learning outcomes. Furthermore, there was a need to customise ISBL for each professional nursing educational programme, ensuring good learning processes and outcomes 4 for all participating professions. The participants’ experiences of reality were essential and influenced their learning processes and outcomes. Also, the results showed that participants learned when they felt mentally prepared for the simulation session, felt safe, were in a social context and were in active and observing roles. Debriefing fostered reflection and strengthened the participants’ learning experience of mastery. The participants experienced developing relevant and important professional competence in handling acute situations, competence in interprofessional teamwork and professional identity. Additionally, welldesigned and prepared ISBL could develop self-efficacy in communication, interprofessional collaboration and prioritising tasks in acute situations. According to the participants, they could transfer their competencies from ISBL to clinical practice. Through interprofessional simulation-based learning, the participants developed knowledge and skills for continuous learning and could further develop these skills when entering clinical practice as recently graduated perioperative nurses.

Conclusion: ISBL is an essential pedagogical approach in perioperative nursing education, as it develops professional competence and self-efficacy in meeting acute clinical situations.

Read the thesis here (pdf)


Date: 11 April 2023

Where: UiA, Campus Grimstad, C2 040

Trial lecture: 10:15 - 11:00

Public defense: 12:30 - 15:30.

Title of trial lecture: Simulation on health care – how can it affect patient outcomes?

About the candidate: Hege Kristin Aslaksen Kaldheim is a registered Nurse with perioperative nurse education. MSC in Health Science from University of Agder (2012). Post Graduate Certificate in Education for Vocational Teachers from University of Agder (2014).


Dean, Professor Anders Johan Wickstrøm Andersen, Faculty of Health and Sport Sciences, University of  Agder,  will chair the disputation.

Supervisors in the doctoral work:

Main supervisor: Professor Mariann Fossum, Department of Health and Nursing Science, UiA. Åshild Slettebø, former Professor at Department of Health and Nursing Science, UiA, was main supervisor until 2022.

Co-supervisor: Senior research fellow Dr. Judy Munday, Faculty of Health, School of Nursing, Queensland University of Technology (QOT), Australia.

See how you can follow the public defense on campus and via Zoom