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Allied Health, nursing students gain simulated experience at EVMS

The Tidewater Community College students didn’t know what to expect behind the closed door at Eastern Virginia Medical School.
Nursing student LaKeshia Eley
Nursing student LaKeshia Eley

Each team of nursing, radiography and medical laboratory technology students knew a patient was inside but didn’t know why.

The “real-world” scenario provided ideal training for 36 students from nursing and the Allied Health professions to learn by doing while faculty watched their decision-making in a nearby observation room.

For two days in March, students in teams of three encountered an unfolding simulation scenario involving a stroke patient and his wife, both standardized patient “actors” employed by EVMS. The students started in a scenario that mimicked an emergency room, then moved to intensive care and finished with preparing for discharge. An added twist: The patient and his wife were both of Jamaican descent, which gave the student teams an opportunity to learn the significance of picking up cultural cues when providing care.

Radiography student Lauren Martin
Radiography student Lauren Martin

“Being able to be prepared for what you will encounter every day by learning in a stress-free environment was an invaluable experience,” said radiography student Tara McGovern.

The experiential learning sessions were made possible thanks to a sponsored program by the Association of American Colleges and Universities: Bringing Theory to Practice project. The EVMS program was a collaborative project between TCC’s Office for Intercultural Learning and Kim Curry-Lourenco to support student learning by advancing the psycho-social wellbeing of students and actively involving them beyond the classroom.

“It was an opportunity for students to participate in a live learning experience where they interact with standardized patients who bring a story to them in the midst of a health crisis,” said Curry-Lourenco, coordinator of instruction and technology for the college’s nursing program. “Students can safely work through the scenario in a way that brings a real-life element to learning.”

EVMS educator Lorraine Lyman meets with Eley, radiography student Joshua David and medical laboratory technology student Taylor Wood.
EVMS educator Lorraine Lyman meets
with Eley, radiography student Joshua
David and medical laboratory technology
student Taylor Wood.

After each 10-minute scenario, the students received immediate feedback in the form of a debriefing from the standardized patients, and after the final scenario, they met with an educator to discuss the overall experience and the role of collaboration among the health-care team in responding to cultural needs of patients. Among the takeaways:

  • the importance of active listening;
  • the need to relax when talking with patients and their families;
  • not overlooking body language;
  • being respectful about cultural differences can include simply asking about what you don’t understand.

“It’s empowering to the patient to be asked questions about their culture,” said Taylor Ward, a medical laboratory student.

“It was great to be with some of my classmates who are in the same field,” said nursing student LaKeshia Eley.

The project’s long-term goal is to impact student learning by supporting a learning environment that provides TCC students with the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to appreciate the interconnectedness of varying cultures.