Virtual Gaming Simulation Provides Experiential Learning for Students

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woman in health care simulation video

In collaboration with our community partners at Ryerson University, Centennial College and University Health Network, George Brown College has created experiential learning opportunities for nursing students in the form of innovative virtual gaming simulations (VGS). These simulations help students gain problem-solving skills and patient care strategies, as well as teach them how to work in interprofessional teams.

Employees at the college have been involved in the development of two open-access VGS – a maternal infant gaming simulation and TeamWorks, which is focused on interprofessional care.

“With VGS, we’re building scenarios in the health care setting that students can use to learn in lieu of placements, and as a supplement or pre-cursor to their placements,” says Paula Mastrilli, Chair, Collaborative Nursing. “VGS is also a solution to the challenge of providing students with opportunities they might not get in their placements, such as caring for women and infants in maternity.”


The maternal infant gaming simulation provides students with experiential learning in each area of care that they would be exposed to if they had a placement within a maternal child unit in a hospital, such as pre-natal nursing care and labour and delivery.

“VGS exposes students to situations that are unpredictable and uncommon in the clinical environment,” Mastrilli explains. “It provides them with knowledge that they need to have but may not get the opportunity to apply in a placement.”

The TeamWorks VGS, funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), was originally created to support internationally educated nurses preparing for practice in Ontario and learners registered in the Academic Pathway for Internationally Educated Nurses program at George Brown. This innovative teaching tool is also being incorporated across various programs at the college in Continuing Education and the Centre for Health Sciences. It has been adopted broadly by post-secondary institutions and health care employers across the country and internationally to promote interprofessional practice among a variety of health care professionals.

“Interprofessional care is the bedrock of the Canadian health care system,” says Patricia Marten-Daniel, Chair, Nursing and Emergency Management. “The TeamWorks VGS is helping students in nursing and allied health care learn through application, and gain skills they can use in the clinical setting where they will be working collaboratively in an interprofessional team.”


Research has shown that VGS simulations are an effective tool for learners, who get the opportunity to assess the results of their choices within the simulation, and then repeat the simulation several times to understand various outcomes based on how they treat the patient. It’s also becoming more relevant now than ever, with many student placements across disciplines affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This enhancement to learning is really the way of the future,” says Marten-Daniel.