Communication and Emotional Realism in Healthcare Simulations

Professor Guid Oei from the Maxima Medical Centre in The Netherlands talks to eViP about MedSim, a large scale medical simulation centre for obstetrics and gynecology teams.

“The department is a simulation centre, and the main focus is multidisciplinary training,” says Professor Oei. However, this centre is designed not only to enhance health care student’s medical skills, but to improve their communication skills, especially in crisis situations.

“Much of what we teach is about communication,” Professor Oei explains. “When teams come to our centre they have to do five scenarios, and each scenario is evaluated by a communication expert.”

Students at the centre range from trainee pediatricians to nurses, and often they are subject to random scenarios. To highlight the importance of effective communication Professor Oei described one example of how ineffective communication skills can result in a life or death situation.

Students were subjected to a scenario in which a woman had gone into labour, but there were complications. One of the students forgot to inform the pediatrician which surgical theatre the patient was in. Consequently, valuable time was lost and the pediatrician was late in treating the patient.

“What we learned from looking back at the videos of this scenario,” says Professor Oei, “Is when healthcare professionals first call the pediatricians or another colleague, they first start by saying where they are.” No doubt this was a valuable lesson learned for the student!

Although the MedSim Centre creates highly realistic simulations, the full benefit is when the student truly believes they are in that scenario: ’emotional realism’ is key to the success of these simulations.

“When you make the participants feel as though they are really in that situation, when they feel those emotions that they have in daily life, that is when you succeed,” says Professor Oei.

You can listen to Professor Guid Oei talk to eViP at the recent Symposium of Virtual Patients held at the University of Maastricht in The Netherlands:

[audio:http://www.virtualpatients.eu/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/Guid-Oei-FINAL.mp3]

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