“Social Workers and nurses work closely in any medical setting and we felt it would be useful for them to better understand each other’s roles when it came to caring for patients. We also saw this as an opportunity to apply knowledge and increase team-building skills,” said Avila Assistant Professor and Director of Field Education, Lindee Petersen Wilson.
Nursing and social work students collaborated during in-home health care simulations as an authentic learning opportunity. Nine groups of students participated in the simulations from March 22 – 29, 2022. Teams of students conducted assessments of a patient’s health care needs, social supports, mental health and substance use indications, and home safety.
Interim Chair, Avila School of Nursing, Angela Yanez, DNP, previously developed and ran the home health care simulation and invited the Department of Social Work to collaborate this year. “We were able to incorporate that material into the social work students’ Social Work with Individuals course assignments taught by Ashley Odel, a social worker and adjunct instructor in our department,” said Petersen Wilson.
“Through this simulation experience, our social work students were able to engage in a unique and special opportunity to practice skills before moving into their required field practicum next year,” said Program Director & Assistant Professor Social Work Debbie Olson-Morrison, Ph.D.
Students used assessment tools to identify medical, safety, social support, mental health, and substance use in the patient. Yanez shared considerations of entering someone’s home as a service provider: accepting drinks/food, developing quick rapport, starting where the patient is, and doing environmental scans for any potential risks.
The simulation home visit was to follow up on a recent foot injury and assess any concerns or needs because the fall had occurred in the home and the patient was grieving the death of her spouse. The students had to decide how to make the best use of the simulation time to allow each team member an opportunity to gather the information they needed.
The simulation lab was staged to resemble an apartment, complete with a bed, couch, table, tv, and various environmental cues, such as medication bottles, beer cans, extension cords, and rugs. Nursing students conducted a “head-to-toe” physical exam, assessed medication usage, and examined the patient’s recent injury to see how it was healing before re-bandaging it. Social work students used a gerontological inventory to identify depression and assessed the patient’s use of alcohol to cope with her grief.
“All of us, including the students, could see the value of this right before our eyes. During the debrief session after the simulations, students identified how observing each other from different majors increased their skills in how to communicate more effectively with patients and also increased collaboration and teamwork. As observers, all faculty were very proud of the competence of our students’ skills,” said Peterson Wilson.
“I felt like my experience with this simulation gave me a much better understanding of who I will be working with and how to communicate with other professionals of the healthcare team, such as social workers. They asked the patient many questions and it was put together very well, as we were able to transition from one of us talking to the next,” said Avila nursing student, Madison Davis.
“I hope to do more of these experiences in the future as it is a unique challenge that puts what we as social work students have been learning into practice. It’s one thing to learn the theory taught in class but it’s a whole other experience to see how those concepts play out in a real-life scenario,” said Avila social work student, Christian Hernandez.
Both departments hope to continue this simulation in the future and possibly expand it to hospice care with multi-disciplinary teams. “I am so happy to see this simulation come to life after planning for literally years. We have talked about doing healthcare interdisciplinary sims for a long time, and the pandemic put this on hold, as it has so many of our plans. We do plan to continue, it was so successful. And I hope to expand to more sims and to more departments,” said Yanez.
“The nursing students, in their final year and completing their final sim, embraced our nervous junior year social work students, who’ve never had sim experience, and helped them feel welcome and comfortable. The incredible teamwork displayed by all involved highlighted the spirit of collaboration and respect for each other, truly reflecting Avila’s spirit. I am proud to be a part of this experience and to work with my amazing colleagues. I’m already excited for next year,” exclaimed Olson-Morrison.