The Continuum of Care: Sharing Women’s Health Statistics Can Help Simulation Learners
There are an estimated 11,667,000 single parent households in the U.S. 81.4% of those are headed by single women. And, that’s just a view of women on the home front. In the workforce, its normal that women have taken on careers that were historically male-oriented, and they have gained a sense of career independence that didn’t exist a generation ago. That and other changes in the lifestyle of women have created a very different picture of women’s health today versus what it was in the past–a picture that may be very different from what the average learner assumes. If you suspect this is the case, you may want to consider sharing some facts about women’s health today to set the stage for your simulation learners prior to engaging in a difficult birth scenario.
A woman’s lifestyle decisions can affect her overall health and can impact the chances of a healthy pregnancy and delivery. For learners who may believe that women’s health has naturally improved over the past years, it may be worth your updating their understanding of the obstetric continuum of care and how the care a woman receives will affect both her and her baby long-term.
In addition to pressures at home and those brought on by changing career requirements and aspirations, women are now having babies later than they have historically. In 1970, first time mothers were 21 years old. Now, they are 26 years old. And, the number of women having their first child after they turn 35 years old is also increasing, leading to an uptick in fertility treatments.
Given that older age is linked to higher-risk pregnancy, few would argue that learners need to be prepared for the worst in these cases. Prior to a simulation, even just giving learners the age of the mother should be a signal for them to consider a host of potential patient risks associated with the birth.
Age is not the only factor for learners to consider. Smoking and alcohol were historically considered the big threats to a woman’s pregnancy. And, while smoking down, new risk factors have dawned in the form of opioid use and poor eating habits. By ensuring that learners understand current women’s health statistics, you can help them get the most out of their simulation experience, develop critical- thinking skills, and improve patient empathy skills.
Just as a woman’s age and lifestyle can affect her ability to become pregnant and have a healthy pregnancy, they can also influence how smoothly the delivery goes. In the United States, women are more likely to die during childbirth or from pregnancy-related causes than women in any other developed country. And, over 60% of these deaths are preventable.
Training for labor and delivery is unique for learners, because it involves a unique form of patient multitasking, simultaneously monitoring and caring for an adult and a newborn. Simulation can help prepare learners to handle this situation, managing care to ensure a safe delivery and reduce the risk of maternal and infant mortality. This preparation can train learners to recognize abnormalities in both the mother and the baby, even in the days and weeks following delivery.
In their role as healthcare professionals, your learners will be the source of information, protection, and guidance for new mothers. Using simulation in training can ensure that they feel confident in their ability to educate, diagnose, and treat a woman at any stage along the continuum of care.