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Health & Wellness students focus on effective communications strategies

Health & Wellness students focus on effective communications strategies

NORFOLK, Neb. – It appeared that a full medical emergency was in progress on a recent Tuesday evening in the J. Paul and Eleanor McIntosh College of Nursing on the Norfolk campus of Northeast Community College, but it was only a drill.

The setting was part of an Interprofessional Education Workshop conducted by the College’s Health & Wellness Division featuring faculty and students in the Nursing, Paramedic and Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) programs. In addition to developing effective communication strategies, the workshop offered opportunities for students to compare and contrast roles of the healthcare team and collaborate as effective team members.    

“The main goal of the workshop was to work on communication between professionals that lead to optimal patient-centered care and efficiencies,” said Laura Schwanebeck, PTA program director/instructor. “This was accomplished by putting together three patient scenes in simulation labs that featured one large scenario. It provided an excellent opportunity for them to work on their communication skills.”

The first scenario began with an elderly female falling at a nursing home. Paramedics were called and then transported the patient from the nursing home to a hospital emergency room (ER). A critical component of the scene was detailed communication between the nursing home staff and the paramedics, followed by communication between the paramedics and ER nurses.

“So, they have to hand off,” Schwanebeck said. “It’s about being efficient and making sure you’re covering all the bases through communication. This is to ensure that all of the information is correctly handed from one professional to the next.”

The third scene focuses on the day after the patient undergoes surgery. Nurses must speak with PTAs who will perform physical therapy with the patients. Students play the roles of healthcare providers and patients, as well as family members who ask questions during each scene.

Heather Claussen, director of allied health, said they wanted students to walk away knowing the differences of each of the other professions participating in the simulation – professions that the students will ultimately work with.

“We all have those thoughts and understanding of what a nurse is, what a paramedic is, what a physical therapist is. So, we’re hoping that the students will have a better understanding of what each profession brings to the table rather than an assumption as to what roles nurses, paramedics and physical therapist assistants actually play.”

To prepare for the evening, all students viewed videos, read case studies, and completed an assignment on how they each view the roles of students in the other programs they will be working with during the workshop.

Faculty members and program directors in all three programs led the simulation and offered critiques of the students’ work. Following the simulation, a debriefing was held to review the evening’s activities. This included assumptions made by the students, communication work and flow, and what goals were accomplished.

This is the fifth year Northeast Community College has conducted the workshop. In previous years, the event has been held as a table-top exercise.

“The students didn’t like that as much,” Schwanebeck said, “as this is much more interactive. They love this much more.”

Over 100 students and 14 faculty members and program directors participated in the workshop.  

Claussen calls nursing, paramedic and physical therapist assistant as key patient-care professions that students will enter upon completing their education and training. She said the workshop is an important element in the students’ education of working with the public and with other healthcare providers.

“We want them to have this experience while they are a student and are in a safe environment. It’s okay to make mistakes and learn from those mistakes in this setting as they move forward.”




                                                                      PHOTO CUTLINE 

Northeast Community College Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) student Hayley Vitosh, of Imperial, (center) works with nursing student
Donna Oswald, of Wayne, playing the role of a patient, as part of a simulation during an Interprofessional Educational Workshop in the J. Paul and Eleanor McIntosh College of Nursing on the Norfolk campus. In addition to developing effective communication strategies, the workshop allowed PTA, nursing and paramedic students the opportunity to collaborate as team members. Also pictured are (from left) nursing students Marisol Sanchez, of Madison, Vitosh, Oswald, Kenzie Barnes, of Cody, and Kathryn Etherington, of Jackson.