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A new way to teach nursing skills

By Sharon Gray

The nursing student washes his hands, walks into the patient’s room, introduces himself and then assesses the patient’s knowledge and perspective. All activity is held in the strictest confidence.

For five fast track students in the fall 2008, N3111 Nursing Care of Middle and Older Adults course, this experience differed from contact with a human patient only because it involved a human patient simulation (HPS).

HPS makes use of a computerized life-size simulator mannequin that is programmed to provide interactive clinical situations for caregivers in a safe learning environment. This unique and innovative teaching tool is currently being incorporated into health care service and education, including national and international schools of nursing.

Eastern Health acquired a HPS mannequin in 2002 through a donation from the Give to Feel Good campaign and entered into a joint agreement with the Faculty of Medicine to integrate its use with both groups.

The School of Nursing saw the value in using the simulation. With funding from the Vice-President’s Innovative Teaching Grant, four faculty members were able to explore the possibility of integrating HPS into the BN (Collaborative) curriculum through simulated clinical experiences.

The grant provided funding for educational opportunities to prepare faculty to implement an HPS module focusing on blood product administration, with third-year nursing students. During the implementation of the module, faculty were able to explore the impact of participation on student’s psychomotor skill acquisition and their satisfaction with the simulated clinical experience.

The faculty members developed one module related to the nursing care of a medical surgical patient requiring a blood transfusion and subsequently experiencing an adverse reaction. Five students volunteered for the HPS session, which was scheduled for three hours and was divided into three one-hour blocks.

“The evaluation tool developed for this HPS indicated that students had met all of the objectives set out for the experience,” said Dr. Sandra MacDonald, one of the nursing faculty who participated in the project. “The students performed a very thorough baseline assessment, even documenting a slight difference between left and right pupil dilation, which was not a planned portion of the session.”

Dr. MacDonald said the students were extremely professional in their conduct towards each other, the patient and the other professionals they had to call during the session. “The students were able to follow the current institutional policy to safely check and administer the blood product–packed red blood cells. They were able to pick up on subtle verbal cues from the patient and then physiologic changes in the vital signs to successfully assess and respond to a transfusion reaction. During the debriefing, all of the students enthusiastically agreed that they felt much better prepared to administer blood in the clinical setting and monitor their patients for any adverse reaction.”