Simulation Program Helps Recruit, Train Next Generation of Home Care Nurses

The United States is projected to experience a serious shortage of nurses, one that is only expected to intensify as baby boomers age and more frequently become in need of home health services. To recruit and prepare aspiring nurses, many of whom are millennials, nursing schools are launching innovative training programs specifically targeting in-home care.

Thanks to a $159,000 grant from the the Rhode Island Executive Office of Health and Human Services, nurse practitioner students enrolled at the University of Rhode Island (URI) College of Nursing can prepare for their part of delivering home-based care by participating in a new training program that simulates residential environments and their inherent challenges. As part of the program, URI is partnering with Simpl Simulation, a company that creates clinical experiences for nursing students and provides interactive training by using actors in a staged apartment, complete with furniture, appliances and everyday clutter.

The simulation program highlights the many rigors of providing care in patients’ homes for participating students, allowing them to, in turn, be better prepared for the real thing once they begin their careers, Denise Coppa, the nursing college’s associate dean of graduate programs, told Home Health Care News via email.

“Simulation is a really important part of training the next generation of professional nurses,” Coppa said. “It gives them the chance to gain practical knowledge and experience in a real-life, clinical setting without the worry of making mistakes and doing any harm.”

About 30 URI students are expected to take part in two simulation experiences in 2018.

“Simulation is particularly helpful when it comes to home-based care, which presents some unique challenges,” Coppa said. “You see patients differently in home-based care; there’s more personal interaction not just with the patient, but often with the patient’s family and loved ones as well. It takes health care providers a little outside their comfort zone, sending them into a unfamiliar location.”

In a recent simulation run, for instance, nursing students made the initial house call for a character named George, who was in his mid-60s and had, according to his story, just been discharged from the hospital after a hip surgery three days prior. The experience included George’s husband, Reid, also present during the student visit. In the simulation, students practiced treating George, while also interviewing him and Reid to get a picture of the couple’s lives.

Evaluators observed and recorded the students through one-way glass, giving immediate feedback on their performance afterward.

“[Students are] able to get immediate feedback on what they did right and wrong so they can improve,” Coppa said. “Being able to practice providing care in the home with live actors goes a long way to making them feel comfortable in the setting and providing the best possible care when they’re out in the community.”

The simulation experience at the URI College of Nursing is just one example of innovative training programs popping up across the country to help prepare nurses for in-home care.

Columbia, Maryland-Based Maxim Healthcare Services—which provides home health care, health care staffing, behavioral care and population health and wellness services—launched an online training program for nurses last year through a partnership with Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. The one-hour course, available at no cost, is specific for the management of home mechanical ventilation (HMV) patients.

Written by Robert Holly

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Robert Holly
When Robert's not covering the latest in home health care news, you can likely find him rooting for the White Sox or roaming his neighborhood streets playing Pokemon Go. Before joining HHCN, Robert covered everything from big agribusiness to the hottest tech startups. 

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