NURS 3020H: Clinical Practice Focused on Acute Care
Instructor John Corso, RN
Trent Fleming School of Nursing (TFSON) students are getting comprehensive hands-on clinical training through the use of innovative software that uses patient Avatars – each with its own name, age, illness, and personality such as being vague, non-compliant, suspicious or worried.
Third-year students in NURS 3020H: Clinical Practice Focused on Acute Care course log into the program and, with the click of a button, can virtually wash their hands and provide patient privacy by pulling back the hospital curtain. They then treat Avatars as real patients by introducing themselves, taking medical histories, assessing psychomotor skills, administering medications and resolving any conflicts and ethical issues. Students also educate the patients about their current condition, medication and nutrition. If an Avatar patient expresses concern – such as wondering if he’ll become addicted to medication – then the student provides education of the risk factors. Overall, students are graded on their responses, documentation, education and empathy.
“It’s as close to ‘hands-on’ as we can safely be at this time,” says instructor John Corso, RN, explaining how the program has been able to pivot to offer important hands-on experiences, even while in the middle of a pandemic. “These programs allow our students to build competence and confidence by putting theory into practice as well as learn critical bedside manner skills – something you can’t get from a textbook.”
Focus on acute care
NURS 3020H is a group practice in medical or surgical inpatient setting focused on adults requiring acute care including head-to-toe assessments, medication administration, sterile procedures, IV starts, IV pumps, mock codes, and assessment (abdominal, glycemic status, neurological, pre-operative, post-operative, respiratory). In normal circumstances, students would have two eight-hour shifts per week in hospitals or long-term care facilities under the tutelage of the instructor and the nurse on duty.
After the pandemic hit, TFSON pivoted by offering these digital clinical experiences through Shadow Health. After each simulation, students join a Zoom call with seven peers and their instructor for a debriefing, which allows them to reflect on and discuss their experiences while gaining in-person feedback and an opportunity to discuss any issues that arose.
Simulation is realistic, precise
Third-year Nursing student Katyanna Eales says she’s thankful TFSON provided a way to continue her studies without postponing her degree.
Ms. Eales had already gained hands-on experience in her first and second year by completing placements in St. Joseph’s at Fleming in long-term care, the Peterborough Regional Health Centre (PRHC) and a one-week placement in Honduras to work with staff and children at PREPACE El Hatillo. She was pleasantly surprised to see how much hands-on practice she could still get digitally.
“The program is really realistic and allows you to check a patient’s abdomen, turn a patient’s head left or right and is so precise that you can even zoom into a mole on the patient’s forehead,” she says.
Another advantage, Ms. Eales adds, is that the program provides a safe environment to gain confidence in asking difficult questions such as a patient’s sexual history or prior drug use.
“While TFSON understands nothing replaces real patient care, these programs have proved invaluable during this unprecedented time,” adds RN Kelly Hudder, clinical learning facilitator. Even after the pandemic ends, she says TFSON may continue to use the programs as supplemental education.
Learn more about the Trent Fleming School of Nursing, which emphasizes a holistic approach to healthcare. The TFSON is Canada's only university nursing program with a fully internationally accredited simulation centre.