Using an “Escape Room” toolbox approach to enhance pharmacology education

Melinda Hermanns, Belinda Deal, Ann M. Campbell, Shawn Hillhouse, J. Brian Opella, Casey Faigle, Robert H. Campbell IV


Background: Faculty are encouraged to use a variety of teaching/learning strategies to engage nursing students. While simulation and games are now common, there were no reports in the nursing literature using an “escape room” concept. Escape rooms use an entertainment approach as teams engage in critical thinking to solve puzzles and find clues to escape a room. In the classroom setting, this concept is modified to solve a mystery by finding various objects through a series of puzzles to locate clues. Some of these games involve finding numerical clues to open locks on a box, such as a toolbox. The purpose of this study was to describe the use of a toolbox gaming strategy based on an escape room concept to help students learn about cardiovascular medications in a pharmacology course.

Methods: This pilot study employed a descriptive qualitative method to investigate an approach to pharmacology education. The sample consisted of first semester nursing students.

Results: Student responses to criteria-based questions resulted in three themes: engaging, teamwork, and frustration, related to using a toolbox scenario strategy as a pathway to learning.

Conclusions: This descriptive study yielded mixed results from the students who were frustrated by time constraints but engaged in the learning experience. Lessons are offered for future improvements.

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Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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