S. Coffey1, A. de la Rocha2, L. Graham2, H. Zitzelsberger1, E. Papaconstantinou1, K. Cummings2, S. Mairs2, D. Chorney2

1University of Ontario Institute of Technology (CANADA)
2Durham College/University of Ontario Institute of Technology (CANADA)
Over the past several decades, the science of simulation has developed exponentially. Practice advances and research outcomes resoundingly highlight the potential for simulated learning to revolution both education and healthcare. It is at this critical point of “mainstream” adoption of simulation as a high-quality teaching and learning methodology for the health professions that we must now turn our attention to the consideration of philosophical questions that focus on both the “how” and the “why” of simulation. It is from within this stance of inquiry that we propose to discuss one philosophical conception of the artistry of simulation.

Terms such as studium and punctum were introduced into photographic theory vocabulary by Barthes (1982) to describe an important feature of the human experience of viewing photographic realism. As described in Barthes’ Camera Lucida, when we look at a photo that is intended to show realism, it is not the actual photo – the ‘what is’ – that we see. Rather, the photograph essentially becomes invisible and what we see instead is the studium, or the range of meanings and observations which everyone is able to see at a glance (without effort or thinking). At the same time, each of us experiences the punctum (a Latin word derived from the Greek word for trauma), wherein unexpectedly each of us is exposed to a private meaning within the visual experience. Barthes describes the punctum as shooting out of the photograph like an arrow and piercing our soul as we view the photograph, triggering each of us to identify something in the photograph with our own consciousness. The term ‘Lucida’ encourages the ‘looker’ to see the photograph for what it is, while at the same time triggering the ‘inner’ light of thinking and interpretation (Burnett, 1991).

High fidelity simulation in the nursing education environment lends itself exquisitely to Barthes’ (1982) concepts of studium and punctum, where the simulated patient may appear to be ‘what is,’ while the student’s observations of the patient and the patient’s environment may unexpectedly create a feeling, a sense a private meaning, which pierces the student’s being, triggering the learner to feel or experience a uniquely constructed and personally experienced interpretation.

[1] Barthes, R. (1982). Camera Lucida: Reflections on photography. Retrieved from
[2] Burnett, R. (1991). Camera Lucida: Roland Barthes, Jean-Paul Sartre and the photographic image. The Australian Journal of Media & Culture, 6(2), 5-24. Retrieved from