Social Work and Nursing Student Simulation Experiences for Highly-Sensitive, Low-Exposure Patient Encounters
Faz, Robyn G.
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Purpose: The typical health profession student is trained with minimal exposure in how to respond as a member of an interprofessional team to highly sensitive patient encounters. Due to the prevalence of sexual assault, infant abandonment, and child abuse in the southwest U.S., faculty from schools of nursing and social work at two universities identified a need to prepare their students to function as an effective interprofessional team in highly-sensitive, low-exposure patient care situations. Methods: Sexual assault, infant abandonment, and child abuse scenarios for senior-level nursing and graduate-level social work students were developed and implemented. Faculty also collaborated with sexual assault nurse examiners and first-responders to implement the hybrid scenarios in a simulated emergency room. Students were qualitatively evaluated on their ability to assess their patient’s situation and appropriately collaborate with the relevant discipline. Results: During the post-simulation debrief, both groups of students reported application of classroom knowledge which resulted in improvement of communication skills and more meaningful teamwork. Nursing students gained insight into the referral and reporting process for highly-sensitive situations. Participants expressed an appreciation in caring for delicate patient issues seldom seen as students and a better understanding of the other health professions’ role. Conclusion: Exposure to highly-sensitive scenarios helped reduce students’ anxieties and improved faculty-observed team communication in emotionally-charged situations. Skills in addressing patients’ emotional and physical needs can be honed through these types of collaborative active-learning experiences. This educational model provides students with real-world learning opportunities to better prepare them for interprofessional collaboration.