Tutorials, Resources, and Frequently Asked Questions

Learn to play Ponder (TM) the Socratic Way and engage your students. Use Ponder (TM) the Socratic Way throughout your curriculum to stimulate critical thinking and clinical reasoning. Most noteworthy, it can be used for missed clinical experiences (check with your individual state board of nursing to determine if acceptable as clinical replacement hours), as a post-conference after a clinical day, or to help faculty build unfolding case studies that write themselves! As an unfolding case study, start at the beginning of an adult health course and create a patient. Name this patient and play the game for a few minutes of each class. Continue the same patient throughout the curriculum as students advance through acute care, community, leadership and more. Additionally, Ponder can be used as a tool for interdisciplinary discussions and play. Furthermore, some faculty tell me that they may simply just roll out patients and begin discussions about them. The possibilities are almost limitless!

Suggested Student Learning Outcomes for Ponder ™ the Socratic Way

When playing Ponder ™ the Socratic Way game the learner will:

  1. recognize and analyze cues in medical/surgical patients across the adult lifespan.
  2. formulate and prioritize hypotheses in the medical/surgical patient population.
  3. generate goals and plans of care for adult patients in the medical/surgical arena.
  4. evaluate and re-evaluate patients based on patients’ pathophysiology and labs applied to the patient, along with pharmacology and care suggested/planned for patients in the medical/surgical setting.
  5. work with teams to determine best evidence-based practice to care for medical/surgical patients created during Ponder ™ the Socratic Way.
  6. build upon communication skills through teamwork and collaboration with fellow learners.
  7. be able to use technology to properly research evidence-based practice.
  8. apply evidence-based practice to various patients in the adult medical/surgical setting.
  9. problem-solve as patients’ conditions change and evolve.
  10. be able to identify urgent situations that require immediate intervention.

Pre-brief by having students watch the demonstration on how to play Ponder ™ the Socratic Way at www.lifecaresim.com .  Other suggestions for debriefing may include having students research specific medications and/or patient conditions (ie ileus, pancreatitis, bipolar issues, etc. that you may want to add to the patient(s) you create when playing Ponder.

Debrief at the end of the game through the evaluation of the patient(s) created.  Review the case with the students.  Talk about what was good, what alternative diagnoses and treatments might have been, what information would have been nice to know that might add insight into the patient’s condition/care.

Evaluate students by having them create concept maps and/or care plans for the patients encountered when playing Ponder ™ the Socratic Way.


Alternative Ways to Adapt Ponder ™ the Socratic Way for Different Levels of Learners, Classroom, and Different Specialty Courses


  1. Roll out several patients and have students prioritize who they would see first.
  2. In rural areas, rooms may have to be shared. Have students determine which patients could share a room, which patients should be isolated, and which patients might need to be located nearest to the nurses’ station.
  3. Roll a regular die (or two) and create that many patients. Ask students to determine what the best combination of a team to care for them would be (ie how many RNs, PNs, MAs, etc.).  Then have students make assignments based on the ideal situation.
  4. Create patients and have students assign acuity levels. Have them provide rationales for their choices.

Health Assessment:

  1. Create patients and have students explain what type of physical exam they would need to do when caring for them. For example:  89-year-old male with nausea/vomiting x 3 days, history of hypertension and is on dialysis.  Have the students explain their rationales for their choices.

Fundamentals Nursing:

  1. Create patients and assist students in pulling pertinent information together. Help them match vital signs, pathophysiology, signs and symptoms to disease and each other.  Help them identify risk factors that might lead to some of the patient’s issues.
  2. Help students identify types of teaching that may be needed for patients. Create patients, identify teaching that needs to be done and have students teach through role-play.

Psychological Nursing:

  1. Add psychological conditions to the patients that are created.
  2. Have students describe and/or roll-play communication techniques that would best serve the patients created.
  3. Have students discuss how a psychological condition would affect the created patient’s care.


  1. In the beginning of the curriculum, create a patient using Ponder ™ the Socratic Way. Use some of the suggestions above for Health Assessment and/or Fundamentals to help students begin to critically think.  Name the patient.
  2. Bring out the patient for a few minutes every class and add to the patient using the spinner to add additional problems and/or ask questions. Allow students to work in teams.
  3. If teaching class on line, you can create patients and share them either live and/or via Discussion Board or other sharing program. Students can Facetime and/or text back and forth their discussion of patient problems encountered before they answer.
  4. Continue to add to the same patient and play with the same patient throughout the curriculum. If you are teaching a particular topic or concept, add that to the patient.  By the end of the curriculum, students have really taken good care of the same patient!
  5. Create patients and have students create concept maps based on the information supplied by the game. Have them include sections on their maps for “other information that I want to know about this patient”.

 Check out this demonstration on how to play Ponder (TM) in an online setting: https://youtu.be/Jl4CnQNGoz0




NEW!!!  How to play Ponder (TM) the Leadership Game Tutorial:



Frequently Asked Questions

How many can play Ponder?
Ponder is best played in groups of 20-25 if playing as the game. Divide the group into 2-6 students per team. If using as unfolding case studies, Ponder is played with larger groups and can be discussed as a classroom activity.

How long does it take to play a game of Ponder? Faculty can set a time limit for as long as they like. It takes a minimum of an hour to play through one patient. The length of the minimum time depends on the spinner and the roll of the dice. If the spinner directs each team to draw a question card right away, play will be short. For unfolding case studies, time can be set for as little as 15-30 minutes for discussion.

Can students play Ponder without faculty? Ponder is designed to be played with faculty as the facilitator. However, faculty may assign students to play and discuss cases that “roll up” during play. Faculty can require students to take snapshots of the patients created and bring their questions to class for discussion.

Is there a Pediatrics or OB version of Ponder? LifeCareSim is in the process of developing games in the areas of Pediatrics, OB, Advanced Health Assessment, and The Call Light Game. If your school would be interested in testing prototypes of games we are producing, please email us at hbensin1@lifecaresim.com.

Students love winning RN (real nurse) cards!

Resources for faculty:

An excellent resource for faculty who work with simulation:  About Healthcare Simulation–https://www.healthysimulation.com/healthcare-simulation/

Looking for an electronic chart to use with students?  ChartFlow has partnered with LifeCareSim to offer free use of their product with Ponder purchases.  For more information:  https://www.chartflow.io/