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2022 Looking Forward: What to Expect in Nursing Education

A summary of what we're seeing - plus some guidance to help

Many European countries are facing severe staff shortages in health and care. For several years now, The European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU), together with many other organisations has raised concerns about the shortage of around 2 Million health professionals in the EU. The NHS in England has had close to 100,000 vacancies for years now, including about 40,000 nurses.

In 2020 the first State of the World’s Nursing (SOWN) report, published by the World Health Organization (WHO), revealed the global nursing workforce was at 27.9 million and estimated there was a global shortfall of 5.9 million nurses1.

With the ageing of the nursing workforce, 17% of nurses globally are expected to retire within in the next ten years, and 4.7 million additional nurses will need to be educated and employed just to maintain current workforce numbers, let alone address the shortages. In total, 10.6 million additional nurses will be needed by 2030.

The pandemic has magnified and exacerbated the global nursing shortage issues and obviously increased risks to the health workforce, including occupational infections, stress and burnout from months of caring for COVID-19 patients. In some countries, nurses  have in addition faced physical violence and psychosocial stigma.

Looking ahead, more nursing programs are turning to simulation to help them do more with less so they can continue to meet an urgent need. Below, we share how simulation in nursing education is playing a role in helping schools produce practice-ready nurses in 2022.

Filling shortages in clinical time

With all the uncertainties surrounding the future of the pandemic, many nursing programs are growing their simulation programs to provide a safety net from the scarcity of clinical site opportunities. And, educators are increasingly realizing the value of the nursing simulation lab in creating a risk-free hands-on learning environment.

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"We are convinced that simulation training prepares our students better for their clinicals. They will be able to use non-technical skills with the technical interventions in critical conditions."

Rik Depauw, Nursing Lector, Karel de Grote University College, Belgium


If one of your many worries is having enough clinical time for your students, you may want to consider growing your simulation program to provide assurance that hands-on opportunities are consistently available.

Our Guidance

First and foremost, find out your Nursing Regulatory Body's education requirements for use of simulation in your region. Then, consider investing in a simulator that is often used for replacing clinical time in nursing programs.

Nursing Anne Simulator is a common choice for covering core nursing skills, and its modularity allows it to simulate a variety of patients. 

Efficiently preparing every nurse for practice

When paired with careful measurement and assessment of performance data, simulation can help create efficiency. Simulations ensure that each student gets the same quality consistent experience. Performance data insights can help uncover individual or cohort-level issues early so they can be ironed out immediately. The result? An efficient “manufacturing” process that churns out confident, prepared future nurses.

"When I'm in a clinical setting and I'm the nurse or faculty member who’s supervising a student and...I see she's going to make a mistake, I step in right away to stop; safety comes first. In simulation, the student gets to make the mistake, and then they get to understand what the mistake causes; that imprints in a very different way to help them understand the consequences and to help them not make that mistake again."

Dr. Desiree Hensel, Dean of Curry College School of Nursing3

Supporting the progression of learning

Looking ahead, many programs plan to continue embracing simulation and other technologies to facilitate both in-person and online learning. In a 2020 survey on future technology trends in nursing education, responses from 450 nursing administrators, faculty, and deans found that 39% plan to offer more online courses post-pandemic.6 48% of respondents intend to invest more in virtual simulation in the next 2 years, while 34% plan to invest more in high-fidelity manikins.7

With more programs increasingly using multiple forms of simulation, some simulation centers are implementing approaches to help organize and align their simulation activities with learning pathways. The SimZones framework is one such approach. Originally developed for the Boston Children’s Hospital Simulation Program, SimZones is a system for matching simulation delivery methods to specific learning needs.8 It separates simulation activities into four zones, with the learning goals increasing in complexity as students progress through each zone.

This phased simulation learning journey allows students to “walk before they run” and build upon what they’ve learned before reaching a real patient.


Laerdal has created its own modified framework for organizing the learning progression with our Circle of Learning. This systematic approach to healthcare training shows the phases of learning required to develop confidence and competence to effectively treat patients.  

Our Guidance

Efficiency will be key to building for better outcomes in 2022. Consider using the Circle of Learning to help you identify and address any missing pieces that might exist in your program. You may want to look for options that can also help you deal with other issues like shortages in space, faculty, or clinical time. Here are a few of our predictions for how our clients will be using simulation to address some of the segments within the Circle of Learning in 2022:

  • Skills proficiency with Premature Anne Task Trainer. Students are already using this portable trainer in any setting to practice ET and OG/NG tube insertion, Sellick maneuver, and other skills until they feel confident in their ability to perform them on a real infant. We see a reliance on this approach only growing. 
  • Decision-making with vSim. Virtual simulation strengthens clinical reasoning and decision-making skills, and help prepare students for the sim lab and clinical time. It can also help address faculty and space shortages, and serve as a supplement for clinical opportunities if needed. And, virtual simulation meets the needs of today’s learners. We see a higher dependence on virtual simulation in the months ahead.
  • Simulation in teams with Nursing Anne Simulator and our Managed Services Program. Team training, especially in emergency situations, improves skills in teamwork and communications. With our managed services, we can create scenarios for you tailored to your training needs. Simulation to improve teamwork is here to stay and will only grow in importance.


  1. International Council of Nurses. Retrieved from
  2. Mundine, J. & Authement, R. (2021). Nursing education during a pandemic: Will future nurses be prepared? American Nurse. Retrieved from
  3. Forecast for the Future: Technology Trends in Nursing Education. (2021). Wolters Kluwer and the National League for Nursing. Retrieved from
  4. Kavanagh, J. & Sharpnack, P. (2021). Crisis in Competency: A Defining Moment in Nursing Education. The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 26(1). DOI:
  5. Pexton, C. & Van Kooy, M. Using Six Sigma to Improve Clinical Quality and Outcomes. iSixSigma. Retrieved from
  6. Wolters Kluwer and National League for Nursing. (2021). See reference #3.
  7. Ibid
  8. Roussin, C. & Weinstock, P. (2017). SimZones: An Organizational Innovation for Simulation Programs and Centers. Academic Medicine, 92(8). doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000001746
  9. Wolters Kluwer and National League for Nursing (2021). See reference #3.