Human Simulation Projects Helps Nursing Students

Dr. Amy Richards collaborated with faculty Tessa Gilhart-Ball, Brenda Graham, Karen Choate, as well as Rogers County Youth Services therapist Abby Harris, to develop and implement a human simulation project in order to provide a rigorous clinical experience for mental health Nursing students! 

More than 100 nursing students were required to attend the four-hour simulation. The role of the human patient alternated among nursing faculty and the licensed social worker to portray a patient. The script was created to represent a patient experience that is commonly seen in health care today.  

The simulated patient suffered from schizophrenia and had self-admitted themselves to the hospital with depression and suicidal thoughts. The student’s task was to assess this patient. How the simulation evolved was dependent upon the critical thinking skills and the nursing actions of the students. No two simulations unfolded the same.

Although therapeutic communication and non-verbal assessment skills are used by nurses every day, it’s imperative for students to experience mental illness that is controlled as well as when it is not well managed. The simulation allowed for the human patient to respond in character. Although challenging, the student’s expressed that they learned a great deal about therapeutic communication, non-verbal communication, and the simple but important act of listening to the patient’s story.

COVID has brought many challenges, but our innovative faculty have adapted to create a successful educational experience for our students. Great work!