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UTMB Nursing Interprofessional Simulation Center kindles teamwork

Valerie C. Andrews, RN

Whether they realize it or not, nurses have assumptions about their roles, and the roles of other healthcare members. Correcting some of those assumptions is one aim of interprofessional simulations, such as those at the Nursing Interprofessional Simulation Center at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.

The center’s director, Valerie C. Andrews, MSN, RN, CNE, CHSE, observes how nursing students and other healthcare professionals who participate in simulation activities learn to approach their practice with a different mindset, based on interprofessional teamwork and collaboration.

“In healthcare, we’ve been training healthcare professionals separately, almost in their own silos,” Andrews said. “We train nurses, we train physicians, for example, and we train them quite differently. They don’t figure that out until they get into practice. But the majority of their practice is working as a team.”

The simulation center, opened in April 2011 after recovery from 2008’s Hurricane Ike , brings together various combinations of students and professionals to learn how to work together more effectively.

Practicing teamwork

From left, Shelby Williams, ursing student, Janilette Velasco, physician assistant student and Erika Gardner, respiratory therapy student, work together in the UTMB Nursing Interprofessional Simulation Center.

Andrews said the interprofessional center is ideally situated, since the medical branch trains a variety of healthcare workers, including undergraduate and graduate nurses, physicians, respiratory therapists and physician’s assistants.
Most recently Andrews worked with UTMB faculty including Patricia Lea, DNP, MSEd, RN; Jose Rojas, PhD, RRT, respiratory therapy program director, and Heather Ashford, MPAS, PA-C, of the PA program, to create and evaluate interprofessional simulation activities for their students.

Andrews said each activity students engage in highlights one of the domains of interprofessional practice: values/ethics, roles/responsibilities, interprofessional communication, and teams and teamwork.

Rojas views the activities they’ve developed as one means of addressing the Joint Commission’s national patient safety goals.

“A consistent concern has been in teamwork, communication and the use of evidence-based practice,” he said. “Having our students participate in interprofessional activities allows us to not only introduce the areas of concern regarding patient safety, it also allows us to produce novice practitioners who value training aimed at reducing patient risk and improving outcomes.”

Scenarios played out in the center often use high-fidelity manikins that can bleed, talk, blink and sweat. Nursing students may find themselves encountering a patient on a med-surg floor who suffers a cardiac decompensation, requiring a call for the rapid response team. After the nursing student calls for help, other healthcare team members must communicate and carry out their specific functions.

“Each student learns to appreciate the value and contribution of each team member and how to deliver care that is timely, efficient and effective,” Rojas said.

Andrews said interprofessional simulation exercises are built into the nursing curriculum. During their senior year, students take part in three simulations. However, nursing students may voluntarily participate in up to seven activities per semester.

Do nursing students find the training worthwhile? “The activities enabled me to understand that it’s most beneficial for the patient when the healthcare team communicates effectively and efficiently and can even save lives when treatment is decided by all healthcare workers involved in the patient’s direct care,” Kimberly Ash, BSN, BS, RN, said of the simulation exercises she was involved in before graduation from UTMB School of Nursing in April.

Tips to develop best interprofessional experiences

Andrews and Rojas, share these tips for developing interprofessional experiences.

• Sit down as a faculty team, with all possible disciplines, to develop activities.

• Consider the schedules of the various disciplines — undergraduate nursing, RT, PA, MD, NP — and determine which groups are available at the same times.

• Start small with clearly stated objectives. In the planning of interprofessional activities, find common objectives among the disciplines.

• Look at the scope of practice among the disciplines involved, then work to align the scenario with core competencies for interprofessional collaborative practice when creating a scenario.

Find these tips and more information online at

By | 2020-04-15T09:23:33-04:00 November 10th, 2014|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

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