Selecting DIY versus Commercial Products

Advantages and Disadvantages to DIY Simulation

Revised: November 2023

Contributors: Holly Sarvas, Meagan Vanderploeg

The intent of this website is to provide low-cost, low-barrier to entry, accessible, and relevant do-it-yourself skills modules for rural-remote nurses. DIY can be a great opportunity for starting continuing education on a ‘shoestring budget’.

  • Advantages of DIY include (Ayers, 2023; Stapleton et al., 2022):

    • Typically more cost-effective,
    • Typically can get greater quantity of task trainers,
    • Cost of materials is typically less than a commercial alternative,
    • More adaptable or customizable
    • Specific learning objectives can be met
    • Can do different skin tones, different features, etc., and
    • Can cover objectives not present in commercial task trainers


  • There are downfalls to DIY that also need to be acknowledged (Ayers, 2023):

    • Time-consuming for shipping and assembly
    • Some items may not ship to rural/remote areas
    • Room for error in assembly, leading to frustration and burn-out
    • Lack of realism comparative to commercial products, leading to reduced buy-in by learners

Therefore, healthcare educators and administrators need to make informed decisions on whether they purchase materials for DIY assembly, or purchase a commercial product. This will depend on accessible funding, time availability of staff, skill level of staff, and objectives that learners must meet.

Resources for selecting quality task trainers:

It is important to note DIY task trainers use many materials across various task trainers. For example, the materials used for the SPRUCE-RN suture/staple pad can be easily adapted to the wound care models, the IV insertion pad, and vice versa. The same adaptability and cross-compatibility is not typically incorporated in commercial products.

That being said, your center may have concerns with shipping, assembly, time-management, or time to learning events, making the choice to buy a commercial product a better alternative than our DIY modules. We encourage you to be thoughtful in your decision on whether to buy commercial or assemble DIY, and if you choose commercial, to select a quality product. This website will not recommend specific products. If you have any questions concerning this page, we welcome you to email [email protected].


Ayers, E. (2023, March 2021). Healthcare simulation task trainers, for the task at hand.

Stapleton, S. N., Cassara, M., Moadel, T., Munzer, B. W., Sampson, C., Wong, A. H., … & Bentley, S. (2022). Procedural task trainer gaps in emergency medicine: A rift in the simulation universe. AEM Education and Training, 6, S32-S42.