Students from Troy University’s School of Nursing and Athletic Training program took part in a casualty simulation recently to help them become better prepared for crisis situations they could encounter in the field of health care.
The simulation, which took place on the intramural fields, utilized the scenario of a bleacher collapse during a recreational event, allowing students to test their assessment, communication, and crisis response skills while encountering victims with varying degrees of injuries. Students not only worked with each other, but also City of Troy rescue personnel.
“It is essential in today’s society to prepare nursing professionals to work with colleagues to advance patient-centered outcomes,” said Dr. Nikki Hilburn, Assistant Professor in the University Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program. “Nurses, among other healthcare professionals, are required to work as a team in a collaborative manner in order to care for patients in the inpatient and the outpatient settings. The interprofessional education simulation was a simulated crisis scenario that required athletic training students, nursing students and local emergency medical services to work together during emergent care to ensure best patient outcomes.”
Dr. Katie Delinsky, Clinical Education Coordinator for the master’s program in Athletic Training, said such collaborative experiences are so important that they are now required by accrediting agencies.
“We have to meet standards set forth by the Commission on Accreditation for Athletic Training Education (CAATE),” Delinsky said. “Interprofessional education is required to be incorporated within the professional curricular program.”
Simulations such as the one held last week help to foster those interprofessional relationships students will experience as they begin their work in the healthcare field, Delinsky said.
“Collaborative simulations are essential to encouraging interprofessional relationships between all healthcare professionals,” she said. “You never know what kind of situation may arise, and all have to be able to work together to provide the best care possible. Many times, if you ask one healthcare professional what another healthcare professional does, they cannot answer your question. Providing these collaborative exercises for the students at Troy University will help them to understand the roles and purposes each healthcare professional can bring to the table without overstepping another provider.”
Communication and teamwork are among the most important lessons that Hilburn hopes students gain through the experience.
“The objectives for the IPE simulation were that students would appreciate and optimize skill sets of various health care providers for best patient outcomes and effectively communicate,” she said. “We wanted the students to see how effective communication among health care providers, patients, and other stakeholders during emergent care is imperative for positive outcomes. Both athletic training students and nursing students graduate and become a part of the healthcare field where they are expected to communicate and collaborate effectively. Even accreditation bodies are now requiring healthcare training programs to incorporate the use of IPE to meet standards. Training healthcare professionals early to work collaboratively in a team environment is significant. Additionally, IPE leads to improving diagnosis, treatment, and quality of care.”
Hilburn believes the simulation helped students gain confidence in working in a team setting and also helped in refining student responsiveness to the patient’s experience. The simulation also highlighted areas that may need more attention in the classroom and lab settings.
“Our hope is to evaluate the feedback we received and make appropriate changes to improve our IPE simulations moving forward,” she said. “We are excited to utilize more IPE simulation in various ways to better prepare our students to better care for and support the communities/populations that they will serve.
For students involved in the simulation, the exercise helped to provide valuable experience for what they could face on a regular basis in the future.
“Experiences like today are really beneficial because we are going to see stuff like this in the field pretty consistently,” said Elliot Bickerstaff, a first-year student in the athletic training master’s program. “There is a big emergency medicine aspect to athletic training so practicing these drills is just going to help us be better prepared for the future so that we don’t make mistakes and are prepared to handle any facet of an emergency situation.”
Bickerstaff said the collaboration between the nursing and athletic training programs for the simulation proved to be extremely beneficial.
“The best thing I thought from today was to have the nursing students out here with us,” he said. “To have all those extra hands was very beneficial. You can never stop practicing or learning stuff in athletic training.”
Nursing student Nicole Carter said the simulation provided valuable experience.
“I feel like it helps to have the experience of dealing with these scenarios before you are in an actual clinical setting,” Carter said. “I think you feel more prepared when you are in a clinical setting if you have had this type of training before.”
Carter also was pleased with the collaborative nature of the simulation.
“I did enjoy working with the athletic training students and I thought we were all able to communicate well and work well together,” she said.
For Brittany Tanner, a second-year student in the athletic training master’s program, the simulation provided a real sense of what dealing with an actual crisis situation would be like.
“I feel like these simulations prepare us for what would be the hardest part of our job, and things that you don’t always see every day,” Tanner said. “There were so many different emotions flying around and so much hecticness. To be able to feel that in somewhat of a real-life scale is helpful. Without that, when that situation does come, you are not going to know how to handle it.”
Tanner, who worked with the most seriously injured patient during the simulation, found the exercise to be extremely beneficial.
“The minute I walked away from the simulation, I said, “I wish we could do one of those once a week.’ It was so life-like, so I walked away from that feeling like this was an amazing experience that will help me be extra prepared moving forward,” she said.
Dr. Wade Forehand, Director of the School of Nursing, said simulations provide a valuable learning experience for students in healthcare-related fields.
“It gives them the chance to practice real world things in a simulated environment. They have the opportunity to make mistakes and learn from their errors in a safe environment,” Forehand said. “The real learning takes place in the classroom afterwards when they talk through it and review all that went on during the simulation — what went well, what didn’t go well and what should have happened. It gives us the opportunity to learn from one another – what one can and can’t do – and to learn how to work as a team under those restrictions. So, it is beneficial to both groups of students.”