Strengthening Distance Learners’ Skills with TeleSimulation

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Every day our simulation centers and nursing programs are facing challenges from reduced budgets to dwindling clinical time. When instructors are wanting to strengthen distance learners’ skills, they are forced to invent methods with the material before them that will allow their students to participate in realistic patient encounters. 

Telesimulation, the process by which healthcare simulation and telecommunications are combined to provide distant learners with the opportunity to access education, training, and assessment, has sought to meet simulationists right where they are at this pivotal moment in time. Not only does telesimulation offer learners an innovative approach to virtual learning, but live patients can be introduced into the simulations to heighten the authenticity and interactivity to replicate clinical experiences. The key to fully removing the burden on simulationists’ shoulders and streamlining the process by which simulations are performed virtually is outsourcing the employment of live patients as well as the design and development of the scenario itself. Avkin’s latest product, AvEncounter, seeks to do exactly that.

AvEncounter, a telesimulation product, offers nursing programs the opportunity to have realistic virtual encounters with live patients without the logistical concerns of recruiting and training a simulated participant/patient (SP) or writing the simulation scenario. These patients are hand-selected by the Avkin education team and trained on ASPE Standards of Best Practice (SOBP) to ensure the highest level of fidelity is being offered to learners participating in the simulation. Avkin’s CHSE-certified educators tailor each scenario to meet the needs of the program at hand and ensure learners are given the best possible opportunity to practice communication skills and assessments of patients in this virtual setting. AvEncounter targets present issues in healthcare, including vaccine hesitancy, mental health concerns, and transgender patients, among others which have directly translated to increased learners’ confidence and competence when they get to the bedside.

A student from California State University—Fresno experienced AvEncounter and said:

“Today’s simulated clinical experience was beneficial, especially with virtual class because it allowed an opportunity to experience patient education in a one-on-one scenario that is otherwise difficult to come by in the clinical setting. It was also beneficial receiving critique from the patient, so we can better improve the areas that are lacking in our nursing skills.”

Another unique offering of AvEncounter that differentiates it from traditional simulations is the ability for the simulation to “freeze.” The concept of “freezing” the simulation was developed for the virtual setting so groups of learners could collaborate on treatment plans and gain a new perspective on how to interact with patients (Cowperthwait et al., 2021). Normally, learners wouldn’t receive feedback until they had fully completed their simulation and were in the “debriefing” stage. AvEncounter is built to include multiple mini debriefing throughout, allowing the learners to groupthink, receive feedback from instructors, and gain insight while watching their fellow students engage with the patient. “Learners are able to collect subjective and objective data from the patient, then pause and critically think about that data to formulate a hypothesis and create a plan for how the next learner could test or refine the hypothesis” (Cowperthwait et al., 2021).

Another student from California State University—Fresno stated:

“Communicating with patients and working together to develop a treatment plan is much clearer now. Not knowing how the conversation will play out allowed me to adapt to the patient’s responses and critically think without having much preparation, which is very realistic when it comes to patient communication- there is no script to follow, and we must be able to adapt to whatever responses we receive from the patient/their families.”

Overall, this teaching and learning strategy is allowing simulationists to target specific curriculum objectives that many students would have difficulty accessing in clinical settings. AvEncounter is an immersive learning experience without the need for additional space in the simulation lab or planning that is typically associated with integrating a new simulation into a program. If you are interested in learning more about this innovative technology or telesimulation Book a Meeting!

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