Drexel University College of Nursing & Health Professions

Case Study: Disaster & Emergency Simulations

"[Using Practice] was a very profound experience; many students reflected afterward that they'll never forget this."

Sandra Friedman

Assistant Clinical Professor, Drexel University College of Nursing and Health Professions

The Challenge

Drexel University’s College of Nursing and Health Professionals is known for their excellent simulation labs that provide an optimal environment for students to develop and hone their nursing skills in real-world scenarios. CNHP  was challenged with bringing disaster and emergency simulations to an online setting while still providing a way for their students to put their skills into practice and graduate with real-life emergency experience in preparation for the workplace. Additionally, CNHP was concerned with the gap in safety knowledge between undergrads, RN-BSNs, and medical students, with a focus on intra-professional teamwork and collaboration. After graduation, there is a tendency among nurses to defer to physicians or nurse practitioners instead of voicing their concerns in a critical situation. CNHP further wanted to empower their students to assert themselves as essential members of teams by taking the responsibility to speak up and advocate for patients.

The Solution

Practice fit CNHP’s pursuit to transform student knowledge, skills, and attitude in an online setting. CNHP also sought Practice as a tool to provide a space for students to practice real-world situations and apply CNHP’s communication framework and principles. An early exercise CNHP created on Practice included a simulated video based on a real case involving a patient who tragically died after complications from a routine surgery amidst poor communication between the healthcare team. By using the Practice platform, instructors were able to set up the exercise where students did not know that the patient had died until after participating. Tasked with placing themselves in the role of a nurse, students were challenged to think on the spot as an important member of the team. Using Practice, students had the opportunity to consider what they would do to change an intensely emotional, critical situation and practice how they would communicate their concerns to physicians and other colleagues involved in the case.

The Results

On average, CNHP students practiced their responses 2.6 times before submitting a final video. Using Practice to simulate a situation involving an interdisciplinary team also saved faculty a tremendous amount of work while still effectively capturing the full range of nuances of an emergency scenario. After putting their communication skills and teamwork into practice, students became more confident in their abilities to speak up for patient safety, particularly in a crisis. Sandra Friedman, Assistant Clinical Professor of the RN-BSN Degree Completion Program, called it a “very profound experience,” and said many students “reflected afterward that they’ll never forget this.” Friedman continued, “They will always speak up from now on, they have the tools to be able to do it because we had them apply it in that situation … [Practice] provides a vehicle.”


Practice empowered Drexel CNHP students to transform their knowledge, skills, and attitudes in an online setting, and also learn how to be a critical member of a team.