Applause is a common behavior during simulation case learning sessions. Some simulation facilitators believe that this should not be allowed, arguing that it can mislead students when they make mistakes during simulation. This study was conducted to explore the opinions of students about spontaneous applause (initiated by the participants), as a habitual behavior in the simulation sessions, in the undergraduate and postgraduate nursing degrees.
A qualitative research study was conducted based on the content analysis of 7 focus groups composed of simulation students (N = 101, both undergraduate and graduate students). The participants were asked to conduct a debate about the following question: What is your opinion about the spontaneous applause given to participants by their peers at the completion of the scenario as they go to the debriefing, and why? An inductive method of content analysis was used to interpret the data.
The majority considered applause as a sign of support; one student disapproved of the practice. For most participants, receiving spontaneous applause from their peers after finishing the simulation represented a spontaneous example of moral support that reduced the participants' stress.
Applause within the context of clinical simulation is a motivational act, which should not be repressed by the facilitator, as long as it is a spontaneous and genuine act by the participants once the simulation experience ends.