Welcome to the third and final blog in our innovation in learning blog series. In our last couple of blogs we have reviewed what we believe will the learning practices that are going to be crucial in nurse aide training of the future. We will continue the discussion now with a few additional innovative learning principles: simulations and practice and feedback.
Our first innovation in this blog deals with the world of simulations. Holy smokes, is this sector coming on strong! There are a variety of types, too. Some simulations mirror a process or activity that learners immerse themselves in. Others involve an actual simulated person that reacts to the care they are provided — positively and negatively.
The Society of Simulation in Healthcare defines simulation education as a bridge between classroom learning and real-life clinical experience. From learning to do injections by practicing on an orange to much more complex simulations that rely on computerized mannequins, simulations are having a moment! Folks are now able to perform dozens of human functions realistically in a healthcare setting such as an operating room or critical care unit that is indistinguishable from the real thing. Whether training in a “full mission environment” or working with a desktop virtual reality machine that copies the features of a risky procedure, training simulations do not put actual patients at risk.
In the post acute care space, there is a great dementia virtual reality simulation that makes the rounds of trade shows, perhaps you’ve seen it. In this literal trailer, you are put into clothing and headphones that simulate dementia and actually get to experience how hard it is to pay attention, be understood and perform basic tasks that someone with dementia would with. There is power in placing yourself in someone else’s shoes.
Straightaway’s sister company, Relias, is also beginning to use simulation technology in its courseware. The future of courses will not be an audio book as in the past but will have learners actually making decisions based on clinical markers and lesson expectations.
Here are a few things simulations allow learners to do that lead to deep learning:
A range of easily accessible learning opportunities
Learning in healthcare is too frequently based around an apprenticeship model. In many disciplines, as opportunities to learn and practice come along, learners are expected to encounter a sufficient number of situations to best ensure their competence in the workplace. This method doesn’t guarantee that learners will be exposed to enough material to truly grasp the subject matter thus putting learners (and their future patients) at a disadvantage. Simulation offers scheduled, valuable learning experiences that are difficult to obtain in real life. Learners address hands-on and thinking skills, including knowledge-in-action, procedures, decision-making, and effective communication. Critical teamwork behaviors such as managing high workload, trapping errors, and coordinating under stress can be taught and practiced.
The freedom to make mistakes to learn from them
Working in a simulated environment allows learners to make mistakes without the need for intervention by experts to stop patient harm. By seeing the outcome of their mistakes –without putting patients at risk– learners gain powerful insight into the consequences of their actions and the need to “get it right.”
The learning experience can be customized
Simulation can accommodate a range of learners from novices to experts. Beginners can gain confidence and muscle memory for tasks that then allow them to focus on the more demanding parts of care. Some complex procedures and rare diseases simply do not present enough opportunities for practice, even to established clinicians. This is a gap that simulation training methods can help fill.
Detailed feedback and evaluation
Real events and the pace of actual healthcare operations do not always allow for time to understand about why things took place, or how to improve performance. Controlled simulations can be immediately followed by videotape-support debriefings or after-action reviews that richly detail what happened. Advanced surgical and task simulators gather data about what the learner is actually doing. These performance maps and logs provide a solid and necessary feedback mechanism to learners and help instructors target necessary improvements.
Look for more simulations and less expensive versions in the very near future.
Practice and Feedback
Our last innovation in the series is practice and feedback. This one is hardly new, but it bears repeating. The days of providing a course to someone and believing that will fix a problem are long gone, and good riddance! The trend now is to let folks practice unfamiliar skills and to prioritize allotting the time and resources to do so.
We should also be providing managers and staff with more “people skills” training in addition to the traditional competencies taught in the past. To that end, you can’t teach people skills without allowing learners to practice and hear feedback. If one does not feel sure of themselves one will not exhibit that behavior on the floor. Feedback and practice loops are vital if you want true behavioral change.
Here are a couple of examples:
Falls Course – After teaching about falls, get a room and pack it with as many fall hazards as you can. Bring learners in and have them identify each and suggest a correction. It involves students in what they see and helps them see how hard these real risks can be to spot and act on. This practical application can also be applied to a number of lessons.
Performance Feedback – We are asking our managers to do more in the people area every day as we fight turnover. Successful programs teach but still allow time and space to practice the skills they will use with their peers and staff. Use peers to evaluate and provide feedback on how well the manager i s using a feedback skills. Have them swap and provide feedback to each other. It is a low pressure way to learn and helps builds bonds with their peers.
Mentoring – Not many mentors have an opportunity to learn how to mentor. It’s crucial to make sure your mentors understand what their charge is in a mentoring role. Once they have an understanding of what’s expected, give them some room to practice and provide feedback to make sure they are proficient. You should find a mentoring course and have your mentors walk through it before assigning them a mentee.
Straightaway Health is excited to be putting together learning products that are designed with all of these innovations in mind. CNA Edge is an a suite of tools that utilize online learning, video instruction, storytelling, simulations, practice, and more. Contact us to learn more.