TROY nursing, social work students participate in annual Interprofessional Simulation Day

Social work and nursing students worked with ACOM doctors to treat and advocate for patients.

Social work and nursing students worked with ACOM doctors to treat and advocate for patients.

Nearly 100 Troy University social work and nursing students from the College of Health and Human Services recently participated in a joint medical Interprofessional Simulation Day alongside other healthcare students from Wallace Community College-Dothan and the Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine in Dothan.

WCCD hosted the event in its Health Sciences Simulation Center on Friday, Feb. 9

During the day-long event, students from each institution worked together to care for a standardized patient with the goal of gaining a better understanding of the roles and responsibilities each profession has in patient care.

Because the program is designed to emphasize the value of team-based healthcare, students were placed in interprofessional groups to encourage collaborative teamwork and problem-solving. Each simulation featured a patient, a family member, a social worker, a nurse and a doctor.

“This event offers a hands-on experience for social work and other helping professional students. Through the simulations, students are able to gain insight into what it is like working on an interdisciplinary team,” said Rachel Walker, a lecturer in TROY’s social work department. “This exercise also provides an opportunity to build students confidence in their ability to speak with others, perform an assessment and establish a treatment plan to best serve the patient.”

Gracie Hughes, a junior social work major from Wetumpka, Ala., said working alongside the student doctors and nurses gave everyone an opportunity to better learn the other side’s perspective and profession.

“It was very helpful, being able to listen to both the caretaker and the patient along with the nurses and the doctors and to be able to put all of our information together to form the best plan for the patient to send them home,” she said.

Adam Rogers, a junior social work major from Jacksonville, Fla., said he gained confidence in being able to advocate for his patient.

A social work student greets a patient's family member.
A social work student greets a patient’s family member.

“I want to be able to use my voice, especially if I feel like the patient is being blocked from the conversation about their care or what happens after they leave the hospital,” he said. “I want to be able to be a voice for others, the way I had someone help me find my voice. It doesn’t matter the scenario—in a hospital or the judicial system or schools—the people that social workers are caring for are people who sometimes struggle to speak up for themselves or are ignored, and it’s our job to make sure they’re not ignored and are a part of the conversation.”

The groups first participated in a team-building exercise followed by a case study segment where each team member was assigned specific roles. At the end of each simulation, groups gathered for a debriefing period to discuss where improvements needed to be made and the things that went well.

Maggie Rodopoulos, a senior nursing major from Montgomery, Ala., said the experience highlighted her strengths and weaknesses and gave her an opportunity to practice her skills.

“This was very helpful from the aspect of learning how to work with doctors and social workers,” she said. “Learning how to give reports and in-depth descriptions of what’s going with the patient. I definitely know what areas I can work on, how prepared I need to be and the things I need to focus on. This simulation was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before—nursing students do a lot of simulations, but this one felt so real, like you were actually in a hospital.”

Not only do the simulation exercises offer the chance for hands-on experiences, it gives students the opportunity to try different approaches without the fear of negatively impacting a patient. With nearly 400 students participating in the simulations—including over 50 nursing and over 40 social work students from TROY—students have several opportunities to practice.

“Students are scheduled for multiple encounters throughout the day, so if the first one does not go well, they are able to reflect on needed changes and implement the changes in the next encounter,” Walker said. “Numerous faculty members from the University are also present during the day to assist with the event. Faculty involvement allows our students to interact on a different level with many of their current or future professors and aids in fostering a student-centered program.”

Interprofessional Simulation Day is part of an ongoing series of collaborative events between WCCD, ACOM and TROY. The simulation has been an annual event for over four years, breaking for COVID in 2020.

“We have wonderful relationships with ACOM and Wallace, and it’s a great opportunity for all the entities within our community to come together to provide this experience,” Walker said. “We look forward to the event each year and plan to continue the existing partnerships.”