Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Practice

Committee Chair

Dr. Karen Stefaniak

Clinical Mentor

Dr. Laura Fanucchi

Committee Member

Dr. Jan Findlay


Purpose: The purpose of this pilot project was to test the effectiveness of a simulation exercise using standardized patients on nurses’ perceived confidence in caring for patients with drug and alcohol problems.

Method: The project was a mixed methods pre-test and posttest design to assess whether simulation using standardized patients was effective in improving nurses’ confidence in caring for patients with problematic drug and alcohol use issues. Qualitative data was obtained by interviewing participants using a semi structured interview.

Results: All nurses reported a positive experience as a result of participating in the simulation exercises. Use of simulation as a learning exercise to improve nurses’ confidence in caring for behaviorally challenging patients with drug and alcohol use was effective.

Conclusion: Caring for patients with drug and alcohol use problems is a challenge particularly in the medical surgical environment where the nurses do not necessarily possess an adequate skill set to manage the associated behaviors. Development of an educational program using patient simulation exercises may increase nurses’ confidence and ability to care for patients with dual illicit drug and/ or alcohol use disorders on medical surgical units.