Using Video Games in Nurse Education

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nurse using tablet

Electronic game-based approaches to learning are widely used in educational settings across the United States and have made their way into nursing schools. While video games may appear to be child’s play, they can make complex information easier to understand and learn.

Games that include Kahoot and C3Softworks are considered serious games to differentiate themselves from entertainment-style gaming. Research shows that learning games stimulate hormones that, in turn, encourage learning. For nursing school students or those teaching nursing students, the advancements have been a boon.

Sadaf S. Murad, APRN, said nursing needs active learners and critical thinkers. Games help students master learning skills, Murad said in “Brain involvement in the use of games in nursing education” published in the Journal of Nursing Education and Practice.

“Game-based learning is a creative platform that allows nursing instructors to use technology and gaming in an appropriate way to enhance the interest of students in nursing education,” Murad said. “Game-based environments are also beneficial for faculty members to incorporate different teaching styles to address the diverse needs of learners.”

For nurse educators or registered nurses (RNs) studying to become nurse educators, nurse education games provide added support for students as they learn the complexities of nursing. The leading traditional and online master’s in nursing programs utilize video games in evidence-based MSN curriculums to provide the best education.

Evidence Behind Educational Video Games

Scientists have long known the brain chemical dopamine plays a significant role in how humans perceive pleasure. In Psychology Today, Peter Gray, Ph.D., said studies show that video games activate dopamine, similar to any other average pleasurable experience. The dopamine boost is about double the normal resting amount, or about the same degree that comes from eating pizza or ice cream. Another study showed games could cause long-term growth in brain activity over time, Gray said.

“Extensive gaming can increase the volume of the right hippocampus and the entorhinal cortex, which are involved in spatial memory and navigation. It can also increase the volume of prefrontal regions of the brain that are involved in executive functioning, including the ability to solve problems and make reasoned decisions,” Gray said in “Sense and Nonsense About Video Game Addiction.” “Such findings are consistent with behavioral research showing that video gaming can produce long-term improvements in these cognitive abilities.”

For nursing students, video games increase student motivation and encourage them to become more engaged in the learning process, Murad said.

Advantages of Nurse Education Video Games

Murad added there are other advantages to incorporating video games in MSN curriculum, including:

  • Video game technology in nurse education provides a less competitive atmosphere so students can improve at their own pace.
  • Learning through video games takes away the fear of making mistakes in front of classmates.
  • Video games provide an opportunity for nursing students with different learning styles to find activities that work best for them.
  • Video games incorporate humor, which is an effective teaching and learning tool because it decreases learners’ stress and makes them partners in the learning activity.
  • Video games can present new challenges, which can stimulate dopamine levels and encourage learning.

Murad added that the video games must be challenging so the learner does not lose interest.

“Curiosity in nursing education is essential to lifelong learning, and nurse educators have a great responsibility to promote it in academic and clinical settings,” Murad said.

Incorporating Video Games into Curriculum

When designing nursing curriculum, educators who use video games as teaching tools should determine which games have the best results. Some of the leading results-driven video games widely used in education include:


Through the Kahoot platform, educators create multiple-choice quizzes so learners can compete against each other for the answer. Kahoot can be accessed via a mobile phone app and web browser.

Pixel Hospital

In Pixel Hospital, available in both IOS and the Google Play store, nurses race against time to help patients during an epidemic that is spreading through a fictional city.


Through C3Softworks software, educators can customize interactive online games that suit student needs. The games can be accessed via desktop computer and mobile devices.

Prognosis: Your Diagnosis

Available for IOS and Google Play devices, Prognosis is designed to help nursing students and other aspiring medical professionals improve their ability to diagnose and manage clinical presentations associated with disease.

In her research, Murad also said the most important elements that video games bring out in nursing students is increased self-confidence and leadership skills. Nurse video games prepare students to incorporate nursing theory into clinical practice.

“Gaming techniques help nursing instructors to accommodate different types of learning styles to address students’ diverse learning needs,” she said. “Appropriate use of gaming pedagogy in nursing curriculum will result in well-prepared nurses with admirable knowledge and skills.”

Indeed, well-prepared nurses also come as a result of a nursing curriculum that focuses on clinical proficiency and academic achievements. At Duquesne University, RNs enrolled in the online master’s in nursing program follow an MSN curriculum based on evidence-based practices and a culture of exploration and wonder. Nurse education games help educators achieve those goals.

About Duquesne University’s online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Program

As a pioneer in nurse education, Duquesne University launched the first BSN program in Pennsylvania in 1937 and the first online nursing Ph.D. program in the nation in 1997. Graduates of the online MSN and online Post-Master’s Certificate in Nurse Education & Faculty Role programs have been lauded as some of the most creative and innovative nurse educators in the field today.

Duquesne University’s online MSN and online Post-Master’s Certificate in nursing programs are 100 percent online, allowing nurses to continue their careers and personal lives while earning an advanced degree. MSN students are eligible to add to their course of study concentrations in Forensic Nursing or Transcultural Nursing for more diversity in education. For more information, contact Duquesne University today.



Brain involvement in the use of games in nursing education: Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

Sense and Nonsense About Video Game Addiction: Psychology Today

9 Fun and Educational Nursing Games: The Nerdy Nurse