Simulations for Success
Joint exercises with JIBC paramedic and Douglas College nursing and healthcare support students enhance collaboration in the field
Paramedic students from the Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC) and health sciences students from Douglas College recently joined forces to learn more about each other’s roles, as well as how to collaborate in health emergency and mental health crisis simulations.
For the first time in B.C., 20 Primary Care Paramedic (PCP) students and 30 students in nursing, psychiatric nursing and health care support work interacted in simulations designed to enhance communication and collaboration between different health workers with the goal of providing safer, integrated and evidence-based care for patients.
Simulations and experiential learning lie at the core of JIBC’s educational approach. Many of the justice and public safety professionals and volunteers who complete their studies at JIBC benefit from opportunities to participate in simulation exercises and activities with peers from other public safety disciplines. For example, joint exercises have been conducted with students from the paramedic and fire programs, as well as police and social services agencies. This interdisciplinary activity reflects the increasing recognition of the need for students to practice working together in a learning environment, in order to enhance their effectiveness in the field.
The simulations took place at Douglas College’s Coquitlam Campus, and the session was attended by Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart, who noted, “I am impressed by the focus on the necessity of interdisciplinary coordination. As someone with direct experience as a user of the health system, the patient handover is important.”
The first simulation involved an elderly woman who fell and was assisted by health sciences students from a first responder approach, then by paramedic students, and finally by nursing and health care support worker students when she was admitted into the simulation ER unit.
The second simulation involved a man with a history of mental illness who resisted going to the hospital to be treated for a wound as well as depression. Paramedic and health sciences students worked together to solve the problem and to persuade the man to go to hospital.
Kathy Harms, JIBC Paramedic Academy Program Director, noted that while paramedics have always collaborated with police and firefighters in emergencies, collaboration between paramedics and other health workers has not been a priority. She said the joint simulation day will help paramedic students and health sciences students better understand each other’s priorities and help them work together.
“What we noticed as we built the simulations is that the focus and priorities for paramedics were different from those of nurses and other health care providers,” she says. “We want to bridge those gaps so that information is not lost, the patient story carries through, and patient safety is enhanced.”
Pamela Cawley, Dean of Health Sciences at Douglas College, said communication between different health workers is essential to patient safety.
“Without a clear and present mutual understanding between professions, patients may not receive the quality of care they deserve,” she says. “This simulation exercise is designed to optimize professional interaction so students will understand different health care roles and how to best serve the patient community.”
Once both simulations were completed, students enthusiastically shared their perspectives on the experience. PCP student Alasdair Dunbar described the day as fun and something that should be done more often, noting that “it was an excellent opportunity to talk to students, instructors and faculty from other disciplines that we will need to work with on a professional basis.”
The sentiment was shared by Health Care Support student Patricia Tubl, who thought that the exercises put the health care continuum into perspective. “It has helped to bring all of the puzzle pieces together.”
Fellow student Brittany Marsh saw value in the reinforcement of the role of health care support workers as advocates for the client and their family. “Everyone else was focused on medical treatment, which helped to define my role in supporting the family and patient.”
Nursing students Kim Sumpter, Daniella Lacharite, and Tara Langlois all underscored the importance of the disciplines working together for the benefit of patients. Langlois brought a unique perspective to the simulation, having completed her PCP training at JIBC seven years earlier.
“It’s been great working with the other professions,” said Langlois. “It helps to develop mutual understanding and respect” - which will pave the way for enhanced patient care and future success in the field.
Last updated October 28, 2014