Background: The healthcare environment is becoming increasingly complex and demanding; therefore, providers need to possess both technical and non-technical skills to respond in unexpected circumstances. Self-awareness and regulation are non-technical skills where an individual becomes aware of personal and others’ emotions and then modulates those emotions to effectively act during a challenging situation. Educational programs need to embed more opportunities for students to develop these skills to enhance patient outcomes. Purpose: The purpose of this research study was to explore student self-perceptions of self-awareness and self-regulation when experiencing unexpected situations in an interprofessional clinical simulation. Methods: Healthcare students (n = 109) from four disciplines participated in this qualitative research study involving an interprofessional small group, face to face simulation with unexpected circumstances. Following the simulation, participants engaged in a semi-structured debriefing. Comments were recorded and analyzed to develop a thematic structure. Results: Participants had varying views about their level of preparedness to handle complex, unexpected situations ranging from feeling not prepared at all to recognizing that they need to be equipped for anything. Students also reported a greater appreciation for the interprofessional team, acknowledging the need for one another as they navigated unexpected circumstances. Some students used their self-awareness and regulation skills in the moment to manage their emotions and move to action in response to the unexpected circumstances, while others benefited from observing and hearing from others during the simulation and debriefing session. Conclusions: The interprofessional simulation helped to prepare students to navigate unexpected challenging patient care circumstances. Students experienced some role and action confusion in response to the emotionally charged scenario; however, they recognized the importance of being self-aware, regulating their own emotions and the skills of the interdisciplinary team to best meet the needs of the patient and family. Additional opportunities for non-technical skill practice should be included in healthcare curriculums to enhance students’ preparedness for the current healthcare environment. Further research is recommended to determine best practices for teaching these non-technical skills.

Author Bio(s)

Elena Wong Espiritu, OTD, OTR/L, BCPR is an Associate Professor in the School of Occupational Therapy at Belmont University. Prior to academia, she worked 10 years in the adult physical disabilities setting providing acute care, inpatient acute rehabilitation and outpatient services as a clinician and team coordinator.

Steven Busby, PhD, FNP-BC has delivered healthcare for 35 years. He worked as an EMT/Paramedic, as an RN in CVICU, ER and as a hospital nursing educator teaching critical care. He has been a family nurse practitioner for 22 years and has 16 years of higher education teaching experience.

Julie Hunt, MSSW, LCSW is an Associate Professor of Social Work & Director of Field Education at Belmont University. She teaches in the areas of practice and field. Her scholarship is focused on teaching and learning as it pertains to clinical practice, spirituality, human diversity, and empathy.

Renee Brown, PT, PhD is the Associate Dean for College of Health Sciences and Nursing at Belmont University and Professor in the School of Physical Therapy.

Beth Hallmark, PhD, RN, MSN, CHSE is the Director of Simulation for the College of Health Sciences and Nursing at Belmont University and is a faculty member in the School of Nursing.

Keri Cochran, MSN-Ed, RNC-NIC is a Simulation Specialist in the College of Health Sciences and Nursing at Belmont University. In her role, she works with course faculty to develop, coordinate, facilitate, and evaluate healthcare simulations. Prior to Belmont, she worked for more than 20 years as a critical care nurse.

Carol Krueger-Brophy, PT, JD has enjoyed careers in both physical therapy and health law. At the time this study was conducted, she was an adjunct faculty member in the School of Physical Therapy at Belmont University teaching healthcare ethics.



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