Nursing, Medical Students Train Side-by-Side in Emergency Scenarios

Posted in GUMC Stories

APRIL 11, 2014 — Medical and nursing students do not often have the opportunity to learn side-by-side at the patient’s bedside, but thanks to a unique pilot education project that emphasizes interprofessional education, Georgetown students were able to do just that.

Students from Georgetown University School of Medicine (new window) and the School of Nursing & Health Studies (new window) (NHS) teamed up in simulated emergency care situations during four sessions in April.  They treated simulated patients in cardiac arrest and performed major trauma resuscitation.

The simulated sessions took place at The O’Neill Family Foundation Clinical Simulation Center (new window), a learning and research facility housed at NHS. The simulator patients replicate physiological conditions and symptoms, providing a realistic training environment for students.

“It’s important for medical students to be exposed to working with nursing students at the patient’s bedside during a simulation because it sets us up for the kind of environment we will be working in when we graduate,” says Nicole Grande (NHS’15), one of the participating nursing students.

Typically, nursing students and medical students learn their roles in patient care individually. Yet the silos that typically exist in health professions education are not reflected in the real world settings, students agree.

“By training with the nursing students, it forces you to consider all of the different aspects of patient care, to make sure the patient is being comprehensively cared for,” says medical student Jeffrey Nusbaum (M’14). 

The integration of health professions supports the goals of comprehensive care and the Georgetown ideal of cura personalis, a Jesuit concept that means care of the whole person.

“Working with the nursing students allows us to better understand all of the roles on a health care team,” says medical student Michael Narvaez (M’14). “With a better understanding of everybody’s role, there is an opportunity to maximize efficiency among the team and accomplish the goal of caring for the whole person.”

Improving Interprofessional Education

The pilot project is co-led by David Milzman, MD (new window), professor of emergency medicine and assistant dean for student research at the School of Medicine, Wendy Thomson, EdD, MSN (new window), director for simulation education in NHS, and Kim Bullock, MD (new window), associate professor in the department of family medicine. It is part of the annual Curricular Innovation, Research, and Creativity in the Learning Environment (CIRCLE) Grant Program funded through Georgetown University Medical Center (new window)

The investigators received the grant in Spring 2013 and the pilot project work began in the fall. They aim to create a new education model to foster team-oriented professional identities and improve interprofessional education.

“We decided to look at the usual training where nursing students and med students train independently of each other and then have them do it collaboratively,” says Milzman. “The students have enjoyed it and the professors have enjoyed it because we see that it truly works better.”

The idea is that if nursing, medical and other health professions students learn jointly in clinical settings, then as graduates, they will improve patient outcomes by working more collaboratively, communicating better with each other and fostering a health care delivery system that assures quality and patient safety.

“By giving them simulated experiences, they’ll remember what to do or how to react when they’re in a real situation,” says Thomson. “They get to feel what it means to be a nurse, what it feels like taking care of a patient, making critical decisions and working collaboratively with a physician.”

Continuing Research

The pilot project is nearing completion, but the investigators still have work to do.

“We’ll be looking at how to improve teamwork,” says Milzman. “There are steps in developing teamwork and evaluating how health professionals work together.”

Thomson says that they will be looking to see if simulation makes a difference in the students’ learning and their ability to transition from school to working in a hospital or clinic.

“I’d like to try to partner with hospitals to see if they can see a difference in nurses and doctors who have been immersed in simulation,” Thomson adds.

The investigators hope this pilot project will kick start collaborative teaching between the two schools on Georgetown’s campus.

By Sarah Reik
GUMC Communications