Is Serious Gaming All it’s Cracked Up to Be?

Turning educational opportunities into video games or mobile applications seems to be all the rage right now in a variety of industries. It’s quickly gaining steam in health care as well with companies developing applications in everything from practicing surgeries to learning about quality and safety.

This is exciting territory for me as I’ve helped develop content for an application training new and experienced nurses through Jump Simulation, a part of OSF Innovation. Partnering with engineers within Jump, I’ve helped other nurses get their innovative solutions off the ground within OSF HealthCare. And now as a Doctoral student of Nursing Practice at Bradley University and Director of Clinical Professional Development at OSF, I want to take my knowledge of serious gaming, and research whether this mode of training is valuable to our learners.

In my studies, I’ve found that there is limited evidence available saying gaming is the preferred mode of education. My research aims to answer this question with the help of the Bradley University Interactive Media Department.

Three seniors within the Bradley department helped me build a game in about five months that’s being tested by nurse practitioners and physician assistants within OSF HealthCare. My goal is to cultivate their opinions about whether the mobile app was engaging and if they enjoyed this way of learning.

Training for a New Model of Primary Care

OSF HealthCare has implemented a new way of delivering health services in our primary, urgent and PromptCares across the Ministry to expand access, improve the patient experience, lower costs and create a better workplace environment. This included changes in processes and workflows as well as the development of a team-based care model, allowing all clinicians the opportunity to impact the health, wellness and outcomes of our population. With these changes, came the need for training.

Much of this work is taking place using simulation. In partnership with members of the Jump team, we came up with an idea for a mobile application that could also help prepare clinicians for this new model of care. The game gives learners a chance to update their health care models to the new one by providing the best possible care for patients as they walk in the door. Participants gain points towards this goal by accurately prioritizing patients based on the severity of their situations while maintaining positive patient satisfaction scores. The more points collected, the more updating clinicians can do to their facilities.

On May 7, nurse practitioners and physician assistants within OSF HealthCare began testing the game and will continue to do so for a month. They have been asked to complete surveys on their engagement level with the game and whether they enjoyed playing it. My hypothesis is that playing these games will bring joy to the individuals playing them and they will spread that joy to others, improving the work environment around them.

A Cool Experience

Armed with survey data, I hope to make a case for expanding the app and testing its effectiveness. If nothing else, I had an amazing opportunity to partner with Bradley University to make this project a reality. I expected I would need to apply for grant funding but instead got the support I needed from the university. The senior interns, in turn, gained valuable experience and a capstone for their last year of school.

I encourage any clinicians looking to find solutions in health care or training to seek out this excellent resource for collaboration. With all of the great programs at the University of Illinois College of Medicine Peoria, Bradley and others, it’s good to know Central Illinois has an array of talent to help us get our ideas off the ground.


Delinski_Nikki.jpgNikki Delinski , DNP, MSN, RN, is the Director of Educational Operations for Jump Simulation where she is responsible for the operational efficiency of the simulation center and sustaining quality education best practices. Nikki started her nursing career in Cardiovascular Intensive Care where she found her true passion for education. 

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