JEMS: Using Medical Simulation to Teach Effective Communication in EMS
Over on JEMS (Journal of Emergency Medical Services), a recent article by By Jennifer McCarthy, MAS, NRP, MICP, Amar P. Patel, DHSc, MS, NRP, Andrew E. Spain, MA, NCEE, EMT-P, and Timothy Whitaker, BS, CHSE, CHSOS, EMT-P focused on how EMS faculty can utilize healthcare simulation to effectively teach communication.
EMS educators often think of simulation as a tool used for enhancing patient assessment techniques, teaching skills before performing them on actual patients (e.g., IVs or airways), or performing patient care simulation experiences (i.e., full scenarios). These are easy ways to enhance what’s taught in the classroom and are great examples of education that can be bridged into practice. How often are communication concepts considered and deliberately integrated into a patient assessment or skills activity? And how often do they become the sole focus of the simulation activity?
There’s little doubt that communication is an important skill for healthcare providers, either between the caregiver and the patient or caregiver to caregiver, yet it’s often minimal or performed poorly. Poor communication and patient handoff has been identified as a contributing cause of medical errors. How healthcare providers communicate with each other and to their patients is as important as what they’re communicating.
Consideration must be given when designing and delivering simulation activities for including, evaluating and enhancing communication. The considerations for inclusion can be construed in two frameworks: meta objectives and specific objectives.
Incorporating communication and utilizing various communication techniques/tools in a simulation activity can help prepare providers with the necessary skills to improve communication between patients, their families and EMS providers. Poor behaviors can be identified and corrected before they affect a patient or their family. Good communication behaviors can be embedded and strengthened, supporting a culture of communication and care that serves to minimize errors and support our patients and providers safety.