This research started as a project to use and demonstrate a high-fidelity human patient simulator in rural campuses at a Canadian community college. It evolved into a larger research study in response to opportunities that arose. In this case study, we share examples where we as researchers had to make decisions based on the practicalities of the research setting and circumstances. We focus on four aspects of this project – use of a multi-method design; creation of new and adapting existing instruments, in particular to measure critical thinking and confidence; work within the practical realities of the research; and collaboration between researchers and non-researchers. We present the challenges and opportunities involved in each aspect.