Collaborative Patient Care

By Matt Hawkins

Fast-paced hospital patient discharges can leave patients and medical caregivers unclear about next steps. To learn how to navigate the setting, Bradley students worked a simulated release with students from medical and nursing schools across central Illinois.

The simulation, at Peoria’s Jump Trading Simulation and Education Center, showed Bradley’s dietetic intern and counseling graduate students the value of collaborative care to ensure best results for patients. This was the first time Bradley students participated in the center’s Interprofessional Education Day. The day brought together students from several Peoria-area nursing, medical and counseling programs.

“It was eye-opening to see what goes into that situation,” said DI student Gerald Ernat. “How many times do dietitians get to be in the room with doctors? It was interesting to see how doctors think and how we could help them.”

Simulation participants worked through lifelike scenarios of releasing “patients” with complicated conditions from hospital care. Students met in teams comprised of multiple medical disciplines to determine how to best work with their patients. Two or three group members met with the patient while the rest of the team watched with faculty facilitators.

The process challenged students to see beyond their usual roles to understand a critical juncture in patient care. They learned the value of clear communication, including notes left in patient files for other medical professionals. For professionals like dietitians and counselors, clear communication may mean finding other times to meet with patients prior to release to give patients time to digest some of the information.

“When you’re in the field, everything happens so fast,” said DI student Ellery Rydin. “We need to advocate for our patients. Part of effective advocacy is knowing when to speak with patients and how we can best work with doctors.”

Students received fast feedback from their efforts as acting patients offered critiques shortly after the simulation ended. That feedback, capped with a lifelike setting, made the experience valuable.

“Simulations are beneficial if you want a real-life understanding of how to handle professional settings,” Ernat said. “The patient made it feel real, so I took it more seriously. That made the experience even better.”

Some media in Bradley University's current print, video and online materials was acquired before the COVID-19 pandemic. Media acquired after the pandemic began was done so in compliance with Bradley's COVID-19 safety protocols at the time. The ongoing safety of our faculty, staff and students is of the utmost concern during these unprecedented times.

Students discuss a patient discharge simulation at Peoria's Jump Trading Simulation and Education Center. (Photo by Duane Zehr)