High-fidelity simulation is a nursing practice that is used by students to improve their professional skills and experience. This method makes it possible for future nurses to assess and implement particular treatment techniques with the help of fake patients. This activity is well known in various hospitals and other medical institutions that educate new members of the local nursing teams. The following paper is intended to discuss whether the scholarly journal article by Hicks, Coke, and Li might be considered a pilot study in the area of high-fidelity simulation or not.
Evaluation of the Pilot Study Label
As mentioned above, the study by Hicks, Coke, and Li (2009) is treated as a pilot research study in its title and throughout the scholars’ article. The main goal of their work was to determine whether or not high-fidelity simulation as an educational method has a significant impact on students’ knowledge and experience in the sphere of nursing (Hicks et al., 2009). This turns out to be a controversial case because this method of learning was already popular and widely used by many hospitals in the United States of America. This fact suggests that the practice’s benefits had already been evaluated by nursing professionals. Nevertheless, there was no evidence-based research that could support this view. As prior data was not recorded according to scholarly standards, the work by Hicks et al. (2009) might be considered a pilot study.
It is clear that many other scholars were already discussing and evaluating the advantages and disadvantages of high-fidelity simulation learning methods (Richardson & Claman, 2014). For instance, the article by Leigh (2008) focuses on the ability of nursing students to make correct clinical judgments by practicing the mannequin simulation beforehand. To determine the appropriateness of the pilot study label given to the article by Hicks, Coke, and Li, it is necessary to review the main criteria of such research, which will be presented below:
- The first characteristic typical of a pilot study is the volume of its context and length. Usually, pilot studies are intended to perform a small experiment and describe outcomes that might be used in further studies by other scholars interested in a particular question. The article by Hicks et al. (2009) is somewhat extensive but does meet the described requirement.
- The second criterion relates to the narrow specialization of scholars that perform pilot studies. In this case, Frank Hicks (one of the authors) holds the position of professor at Rush University College of Nursing in Chicago, as do his colleagues, Lola Coke and Suling Li (Hicks et al., 2009). As this requirement is met, the study might be considered credible and trustworthy. Nevertheless, its pilot label needs more evidence and support.
- The third factor, which might be considered the primary characteristic of research that is given the label of a pilot study, is the fact that a particular topic or question is discussed for the first time. It means that if similar research has been conducted by other scholars in the past, a research project necessarily cannot be claimed as pilot study. Unfortunately, this criterion is not met.
The question of the effectiveness of high-fidelity simulation was discussed by multiple scholars even in the previous century, which made it possible to use this educational method in different medical institutions all over the country. Therefore, the study by Hicks et al. (2009) cannot be considered a pilot study. Although the researchers developed an accurate plan and gathered an appropriate sampling of data, all these methods had previously been tested and implemented under real conditions (Richardson & Claman, 2014). Moreover, approximately sixty people agreed to participate in the experiment. A sample of this size is often considered to be large in comparison to other pilot studies. Usually, scholars do not need more than thirty people to prove their theories. The maximum sample size that is typically considered acceptable for such research should not be more than fifty individuals. In addition, as stated above, a pilot study is a short experiment. In this case, the total time required for the project completion was more than thirty hours: “Students in this group spent 15 hours in the simulator working on the scenarios described above and then 15 hours (three five-hour sessions) in a critical care clinical experience providing direct, supervised care to a variety of critically-ill individuals” (Hicks et al., 2009, p. 13).
One might also mention that high-fidelity simulation likely would not be used in medical institutions to teach students treatment techniques if this method was not effective (Richardson & Claman, 2014). There was therefore perhaps no practical purpose in conducting this research. However, the prior existence of studies that evaluate the same theory is more than enough to justify not calling this experiment a pilot study.
The study performed by Hicks et al. on the efficiency of high-fidelity simulation in nursing students’ education cannot be considered a pilot study, as the appropriate criteria were not met. Many scholars have had a chance to evaluate the impact of using mannequins in training on nurses’ experience and professionalism. Also, the sample size of the study extended above the number accepted for use in pilot studies. Moreover, the time limits also did not correspond to the general standards for such experiments.
Hicks, F. D., Coke, L., & Li, S. (2009). The effect of high-fidelity simulation on nursing students’ knowledge and performance: A pilot study. National Council of State Boards of Nursing, 40(1), 1-20.
Leigh, G. T. (2008). High-fidelity patient simulation and nursing students self-efficacy: A review of the literature. International Journal of Nursing Education Scholarship, 5(1), 1-17. Web.
Richardson, K. J., & Claman, F. (2014). High-fidelity simulation in nursing education: A change in clinical practice. Nursing Education Perspectives, 35(2), 125-127. Web.