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Sterile Gloving to Escape Rooms: Running a Successful Nursing Boot Camp

Using creativity to make content stick for your nursing students is a top priority. A Summer Nursing Boot Camp can be packed with “sticky” lessons to help your students prepare for the challenges posed by today's healthcare environment.


Think of Nursing Boot Camp as a time for your students to “drill” on the basics, train their minds in clinical judgment, and practice collaborating with the other “recruits”. A Nursing Boot Camp that inspires students relies on an organized Planning Committee.

Here are Ten Tips to help you plan an engaging Nursing Boot Camp:

  1. Get buy-in from your program Dean or Director, your fellow faculty, and your students.
  2. Have a planning committee of Nursing Boot Camp champions. Include representatives from the student population, faculty, and your Sim Team. Links to free resources are listed at the end of this post.
  3. Generate interest with posters, messages in their online class platform, and word of mouth.
  4. Limit the spaces available creating a sense of urgency to encourage early sign-up. Consider collecting a nominal fee (non-refundable) which further motivates This fee can then be used to purchase faculty appreciation gift cards.
  5. Start early. Begin offering sign-ups by mid-April. Create the Boot Camp Agenda, and develop your activities. Include rotating skill practice stations for the first half and run a “putting it all together” simulation activity for the second half.
  6. Plan to offer sessions on varying days at different times to accommodate summer schedules of both your student “recruits” and faculty “drill instructors”. Provide frequent reminders to “recruits” leading up to the date of their session.
  7. Pre-assign groups of “recruits” ahead of the session. Make mixed groups of different academic levels. Summer Boot Camp can create new friendships within the entire student body.
  8. Do a dry run of the whole session with your “drill instructors” before the actual camp. Everyone being on the same page will make for a seamless experience. Have instructor notes with a defined learning objective at each station.
  9. End on a strong note. Have “recruits” complete an evaluation after each Nursing Boot Camp. Consider having prizes or awards at the end…i.e., “Best Chest Compressions”, “Golden SBARR Award”, etc.
  10. Keep it simple! Remember, this is to reinforce the basics, not to teach new skills or content. Don’t overburden your “drill instructors” team, and don’t overwhelm your “recruits”. You want them to come back next summer. And, you want them to bring their friends as new “recruits”.

Planning a Nursing Boot Camp can be challenging. But get excited about it! We’re here to get you started.

Here are some ideas to help your planning committee brainstorming session:

  • Skill practice stations: sterile gloving, isolation procedures, safety scavenger hunt, urinary catheterization, IV infusion, dosage calculation, suctioning, dressing change, safe patient handling (patient transfer), basic life support skills. Tap into these sim2grow resources.
  • Medication administration training is too important to leave out of the camps! Refer to our 20 Ways to Thread Med Admin throughout your curriculum for ideas to add med admin to the agenda.
  • Simulation-based activities to “put it all together” such as mini-patient care scenarios, table-top simulations, SBARR activities, and the increasingly popular Escape Room.

If you've never tried an Escape Room with your nursing students, Summer Nursing Boot Camp might be a great time to use one. Read our blog post on the secret keys to create a DIY engaging escape room. Bonus: It includes 2 escape rooms already designed for you.

Give us your feedback. We’d love to hear how your camp worked out!