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Interprofessional Medical Simulations with People with IDD as Standardized Patients

    University of Illinois-Chicago Pilot

    An interactive program where pharmacy, nursing, and dentistry students work with individuals with IDD serving as standardized patients in outpatient primary care simulations.

    The College of Nursing, College of Dentistry, College of Pharmacy, and the Co-Operative Career Experience Certificate program (Co-Op Program) in the Department of Disability and Human Development (DHD) at the University of Illinois Chicago in the Interprofessional Practice and Education (IPE) are collaborating on a pilot program involving individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) serving as Standardized Patients (SPs). 

    A man sits in a motorized wheelchair. He has brown hair and  is wearing a light blue dress shirt.
    Bob Connors, a participant in the pilot project.

    The goal of the project is to build student knowledge and confidence in treating individuals with IDD as members of a collaborative healthcare team and to give a voice to individuals with IDD so they can contribute to the training of the next generation of healthcare professionals. The program was launched in the M. Christine Schwartz Experiential Learning & Simulation Laboratory at UIC’s College of Nursing and included interactive, outpatient, primary care scenarios to engage students in an interprofessional experience in providing treatment for individuals with disabilities. 

    SPs completed three workshops with extensive training by a Medical Simulation Specialist and Acting Technique Teacher and Coach to develop clinical and communication skills as Standardized Patients to portray a variety of patient scenarios (Eppich & Cheng, 2015). The PEARLS debriefing tool is designed to facilitate the implementation of the new framework. The PEARLS framework integrates 3 common educational strategies used during debriefing, namely, (1) learner self-assessment, (2) facilitating focused discussion, and (3) providing information in the form of directive feedback and/or teaching. The PEARLS debriefing tool incorporates scripted language to guide the debriefing, depending on the strategy chosen. The Promoting Excellence and Reflective Learning in Simulation (PEARLS) framework was used with a debriefing script to facilitate (1) learner self-assessment, (2) focused discussion, and (3) directive feedback and/or teaching. The structured framework of PEARLS is adaptable for debriefing simulations with a variety of goals, such as clinical decision-making, improving technical skills, teamwork training, and interprofessional collaboration. During each debriefing, SPs provided feedback to the interprofessional team regarding the interaction, along with its value, especially regarding the treatment of patients with disabilities to achieve equitable healthcare treatment and improved health outcomes. 

    Bridget Brown (front left) attends a conference to share pilot program results. Bridget is an actress who participated in the project as a standardized patient.

    All simulated encounters incorporated an opportunity for SPs to debrief and process any previous trauma triggered by the interprofessional simulation experience. SPs were recruited from the DHD Co-Op program at UIC, which supports students with IDD to achieve competitive careers in the community. Standardized Patients were also recruited among actors in the Chicago area disability community. The scenario scripts were created collaboratively with input from people with disability and faculty in nursing, dentistry, pharmacy, and DHD. The Interprofessional Education Collaborative Competency Self Efficacy Tools 27 (IPECC-SET27) (Kottorp et al., 2019) item ratings were used to capture the level of self-efficacy (the belief in the ability to perform a specific task) for interprofessional collaborative practice (ICP) among each of the health professions students learners in nursing, dentistry, and pharmacy.