Development of a programme to facilitate interprofessional simulation-based training for final year undergraduate healthcare students
Introduction: Students have few opportunities to practise alongside students from other disciplines. Simulation offers an ideal context to provide them with concrete experience in a safe and controlled environment. This project was about the development of a programme to facilitate interprofessional scenario-based simulation training for final year undergraduate healthcare students and explored whether simulation improved trainees’ knowledge of other healthcare discipline’s roles and skills. Methods: A multidisciplinary academic project team was created and trained for the development and facilitation of this project. The team worked on the development of appropriate multiprofessional scenarios and a strategy to recruit the final year students on a volunteer basis to the project. By the end of the project 95 students were involved in small groups to one of fifteen 3-hour interprofessional simulation sessions. Staff role played the relatives, doctor on call, and patient when it was more appropriate than using a patient simulator (Laerdal SimMan/SimBaby) in the simulated community setting and paediatric or adult emergency department. Each session had 3 to 4 of the following disciplines represented (Adult/Children/Learning Disability Nursing, Paramedic, Radiography, Physiotherapy) and each student observed and took part in one long and relevant high-fidelity scenario. Half the students were randomly selected to fill in a 40-item questionnaire testing their knowledge of other disciplines before the simulation (control group) and the others after (experimental group). Students were assessed on the questions relating to the disciplines represented in their session. Results: By the end of the project 95 questionnaires were collected of which 45 were control group students (Questionnaire before simulation) and 50 experimental group students (Questionnaire after simulation). Both groups were comparable in terms of gender, discipline and age representation. Participants were: Adult nurses (n=46), Children’s nurses (n=4), Learning Disability nurses (n=7), Nurses, Paramedics (n=8), Radiographers (n=20), Physiotherapists (n=8). 15 sessions were run with an average of around 7 participants and at least 3 disciplines represented. The knowledge test results about the disciplines represented was significantly different between the control and experimental groups (Control 73.80%, 95% CI 70.95-76.65; and Experimental 78.81%, 95% CI 75.76-81.87, p=0.02). In addition, there were sometimes reliable differences between the groups in their view of multidisciplinary training; confidence about working as part of a multidisciplinary team was 3.33 (SD=0.80, Control) and 3.79 (SD=0.90, Experimental), p=0.011; their anticipation that working as part of a multidisciplinary team would make them feel anxious was 2.67 (SD=1.17, Control) and 2.25 (SD=1.04, Experimental), p=0.073; their perception of their knowledge of what other healthcare professionals can or cannot do was 3.00 (SD=0.91, Control) and 3.35 (SD=0.93, Experimental), p=0.066; their view that learning with other healthcare students before qualification will improve their relationship after qualification was 3.93 (SD=1.14, Control) and 4.33 (SD=0.81, Experimental), p=0.055; their opinion about interprofessional learning helping them to become better team workers before qualification was 3.96 (SD=1.24, Control) and 4.42 (SD=0.77, Experimental), p=0.036. Conclusions: Although the difference is relatively small (~5%), the results demonstrate that students gained confidence and knowledge about the skills and role of other disciplines involved in their session. Through simulation, the positivism of students about different aspects of learning or working with other healthcare disciplines has significantly improved. Students gained knowledge of other disciplines simply by being given the opportunity to take part in a multiprofessional scenario and observe another one. The results of the test and their reported perception about multidisciplinary team working suggest that they are better prepared to enter the healthcare workforce. Discussions during the debriefings highlighted the fact that multidisciplinary training is important. The main challenges identified have been the voluntary student attendance and timetabling issues forcing us to run the session late in the day due to the number of disciplines involved in each session and their different placement rota. The aim is now to timetable formally this session within their curriculum. Introducing simulation in the undergraduate curriculum should facilitate its implementation as Continuing Professional Development once these students become qualified healthcare professionals.