Simulation in Community Health Theory Courses: Taking in the Big Picture

  • Journal Article

Teaching Strategy Description:

Though simulation is widely used for acute care practice, it can also be applied to theory classes in public health. A simulation manikin was used in a junior-level course in a low-fidelity exercise, and the manikin was used in a medium-fidelity exercise with senior students.

Medium Fidelity:

Early in the course, the manikin is presented to the class. The manikin should be prepared so as to demonstrate a socially stigmatized health issue. In the example in Mawji and Lind (2013), the manikin is a prostitute who is homeless and battered with track marks on her arm. Students approach the manikin in small groups, and are permitted to assess her with their already-acquired acute care skills. They were also allowed to ask her questions, which were answered by another instructor behind a curtain to simulate the patient’s responses. The patient would also ask questions that might be likely in this scenario, for example, “Can I go out for a smoke?”

Low Fidelity:

Early in the course, the manikin is presented to the class. Again, the manikin is prepared so as to represent a person with health issues that might arise from social issues. In small groups, students approach and can look at the manikin to observe the patient’s injuries, and then spend a few minutes discussing. Each group then presents their observations to the class, theorizing what might have happened.

Following both exercises, a fictional life story was read to the class. Students then fill out a worksheet with the following questions:

  • What risks did you pick out from the life story?
  • How is the patient likely treated by society in general?
  • Is it ok that the patient’s life turned out this way?
  • What, as nurses, can we do about it? (this question for senior students only)

Groups then shared their responses with the class. Class discussion follows.

Teaching Context:

  • Both junior and senior level students
  • Community Health courses


Mawji, A., & Lind, C. (2013). Imogene: A Simulation Innovation to Teach Community Health Nursing. Clinical Simulation in Nursing. 9(11), e513-519. Retrieved from


Submitted by: Aliyah Mawji, Mount Royal University, and Candace Lind, University of Calgary

Indicator(s): 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 1.6