Students at Villanova Universitys College of Nursing, Philadelphia, are taking part in an innovative new clinical psychiatric simulation.
The recently implemented program, for second-semester junior nursing students, is designed to increase understanding of the patient experience for patients with more severe diseases, including hearing distressing voices.
Understanding your patients perspective is necessary for quality nursing care, said student Erika Clark, who called the simulation an eye-opener.
Nursing faculty and associate professors Patricia K. Bradley, RN, PhD, and Gale Robinson-Smith, RN, PhD, along with consultant Colleen Meakim, RN, MSN, director of the Colleges Learning Resource Center, received a Villanova Institute for Teaching and Learning grant to implement the Hearing Voices That Are Distressing experience with undergraduate psychiatric nursing clinical students. The program began this fall.
The program targets the care of patients who hear distressing voices, such as patients with schizophrenia, which affects about 1% of Americans, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. The HVTAD experience, which builds on previous classroom learning, has been used with first responders such as EMTs and police.
The College of Nursing is among the first nursing schools in the U.S. and Canada to use the simulation, Robinson-Smith said.
NIMH statistics note that one in four American adults, or approximately 58 million people, have a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year, and the impact on nursing is significant.
I left the simulation with a deeper understanding and appreciation for what these patients live with, which will allow me to express true empathy when working with them, student J.R. Beshore said. Every nursing student should have this experience.
Students use headphones and an MP3 recording during the simulation, which includes a safe zone where they can adjust their headphones or seek assistance from faculty if they need to briefly step away from the immediate sensory experience. The students listen to a specially designed recording that simulates auditory hallucinations as they perform a number of tasks at various workstations. They role-play with non-nursing students acting as mental health professionals, and must participate in an evaluation interview with an ED psychiatrist, complete cognitive testing and interact in a community day-program activity. The simulation experience is followed by a debriefing and discussion period.
Students such as Shazi Khan note feeling guarded and distracted during the simulation, a major objective of which is for students to learn more effective ways of helping people who hear distressing voices.
Regardless of their message, encouraging or degrading, the voices greatly impacted my concentration and overall sense of well-being, student Lauren Dornin said. This was an invaluable experience and will allow me to better relate to and empathize with mental health patients in the future.