Role of Simulation & Interprofessional Education in Healthcare Training


Role of Simulation in Healthcare Education

Simulation is widely used throughout healthcare education, both in the form of standardized patients (SPs) and high-fidelity patient simulator (HFPS) manikins. SPs are individuals who are recruited and trained to consistently portray the clinical presentation (signs and symptoms) of a specific illness or disease state. HFPS manikins are computer enhanced manikins that are capable of breathing, speaking, sweating, coughing, bleeding, urinating and vomiting. These manikins are also able to manifest vital signs (i.e., heart rate, breathing, blood pressure and temperature) that can be pre-programmed or manually adjusted to present the signs and symptoms of almost any disease or other medical condition. Each HFPS manikin’s verbal responses and physical functions are controlled by a faculty member in a centralized control room.

The use of SPs provides students with highly realistic learning opportunities for them to refine their patient interaction, clinical assessment, clinical decision-making, and overall patient care skills. The HFPS manikins are especially effective in providing students with opportunities to assess and treat patients with serious or emergent medical conditions that are often associated with dangerous changes in vital signs (e.g., cardiac arrest, asthma attack, anaphylaxis, trauma). Both SP and HFSP scenarios provide students with valuable patient care experience prior to their clinical rotations in local healthcare facilities. Each SP and HFSP encounter is recorded and stored digitally on a computer server for students and faculty to access for debriefing after the event. Debriefing enables the students and faculty to review and discuss the patient encounter and to reflect on the students’ performances. Students can also review their patient encounters individually for self-reflection or with their fellow students for peer reflection and evaluation.

The ultimate goal of simulation is for the participant to take what they learned in the patient encounter and debriefing session and apply it to the “real world” during their clinical rotations. This type of learning improves the care and safety of the patients, which ultimately leads to improved patient outcomes. For this reason, the debriefing process is a vital component of the simulation experience.

Interprofessional Education

Increased emphasis on Interprofessional Education (IPE) changes in health care policy have led to an emergence of new health care delivery models that focus on patient-centered care, improved patient outcomes, and reduced health care costs. In 2003, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) reported that patient-centered care could be delivered most effectively through interdisciplinary healthcare teams. Subsequent research has shown that health care delivery via interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary teams has produced better patient outcomes. However, in order for healthcare professionals to function effectively in collaborative, interprofessional practice (IPP), they must be trained in a culture of interprofessional education (IPE). Patient simulation through SP and HFPS scenarios can incorporate this team-based approach to patient care. These types of simulations can effectively train healthcare professionals to work together collaboratively, recognizing the role and expertise that each discipline brings to the overall management of the patient.


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