URI nursing students simulate home care scenarios

UNIVERSITY OF RHODE ISLAND College of Nursing students practice providing home-based primary health care on live actors while evaluators look on through one-way glass in the advanced simulation labs at the Rhode Island Nursing Education Center. COURTESY UNIVERSITY OF RHODE ISLAND/PATRICK LUCE

PROVIDENCE – Nurse practitioner students in the University of Rhode Island College of Nursing have a head start on preparing for challenging home care roles thanks to a $159,000 grant from the state Executive Office of Health and Human Services.

The grant is part of the EOHHS Healthcare Workforce Transformation project, which runs simulation labs at the Rhode Island Nursing Education Center in Providence to provide URI graduate nursing students with specific instruction on the unique challenges of home health care. The skills will apply directly in the field, said Denise Coppa, the college’s associate dean of graduate programs.

“These students will be prepared to deliver primary care in the home for a medically underserved population,” Coppa said.

Thirty URI students are expected to be educated through two simulated experiences this year, compared with just eight students in 2017 who were placed with a nurse practitioner clinical faculty member delivering home-based care in the community.

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“A very important part of the role of a nurse practitioner is health promotion and prevention, a lot of which will be done in the home. The value of this program is showing our students that they see patients differently in home-based care,” Coppa said.

Simpl Simulation, a company specializing in simulated clinical experiences for nursing students, provides the training during which students interact with actors in a simulated home care experience. In the recent session, two actors portrayed George and Reid, a married couple in their mid-60s, one of whom has just been discharged from the hospital after undergoing a hip replacement. The students simulate making the initial house call for George three days after his release.

The students visit with the couple in a lab simulation designed to resemble a typical apartment, complete with living room, bedroom, kitchen and bathroom. The lab contains all the furniture, appliances and even clutter you would expect to find in a typical home to create as realistic a scenario as possible. The students practice treating the patient and interviewing him and his husband to understand the challenges of George’s treatment and in the couple’s lives.

Meanwhile, evaluators observe the interaction through one-way glass and record the session for debriefing afterward, giving the students immediate feedback on their work from observers and the actors themselves.

“This provides students the opportunity to have a hands-on experience where it’s safe to make mistakes before they work with actual patients,” said Tonya Schneidereith, managing partner of Simpl Simulation.

Rob Borkowski is a PBN staff writer. Email him at Borkowski@PBN.com.