Collaborative Care

Eastern’s School of Nursing and Social Work department launch interprofessional experience simulation, creating collaborative opportunities for students to practice holistic patient care in the midst of COVID-19.

In a world that is constantly morphing and changing, healthcare and technology must evolve and adapt in order to meet the demands of the times. In 2020, our world was forced to innovate in order to accommodate a world- wide pandemic that not only affected our personal lives, but our entire society, culture, and healthcare system as a whole.

Struggling to secure necessary clinical placements in the fall semester, Eastern’s Nursing department connected with the Social Work department in an effort to collaborate and provide a meaningful educational experience for both groups of students. Together, the nursing and social work faculty developed an interactive, interprofessional simulation-based experience that provided valuable clinical experiences for both nursing and social work students, while also helping to meet each program's accreditation requirements.

“This is the very first interprofessional simulation collaboration at Eastern, and ironically, it was created as a direct result of COVID-19,” shares Professor Kristin Shaub, Director of Eastern’s Nursing Resource and Simulation Lab. “COVID-19 is so often associated with missed opportunities, but for Nursing and Social Work, it has provided us with new opportunities for growth and collaborative learning between professions that will extend beyond graduation. To be cliche, necessity is indeed the mother of invention.”

The interprofessional experience simulation (IPE simulation) is an interactive experience mimicking a post-hospital patient follow-up featuring two live-actor patients. In this simulation, nursing and social work students collaborate to provide follow-up care for the patients by incorporating physical, medical, social, and emotional interventions as they relate to their field of study. After the simulation, students receive feedback from the patient and debrief with a facilitator.

“I learned that there are so many resources for patients that I had never heard of,” reflects nursing student Natalie Pabon ’20. “I was grateful to have my social work partner focusing on psychosocial needs and resources while I focused on all medical aspects – we were really able to provide more holistic and effective care for the patient. The experience taught me just how important it is to utilize my interprofessional team.”

The IPE Simulation team is grateful for the unique and applicable telehealth experiences that they were able to provide for their students during this pandemic. “This simulation experience has built relationships between nursing and social work students and faculty alike,” shares Social Work professor and Director of Field Placement Leslie Gregory. “It has helped us all to break free from our professional bubbles and learn from one another. IPE simulation is an invaluable experience for our students’ professional growth and learning.”

“It is evident that our future will never completely revert back to the way it was before,” shares Lindsey Aukamp ’21, senior Social Work major. “Before this experience, I was not aware that nurses and other medical professionals could be so complementary in engaging, assessing, intervening, and evaluating the needs of clients. I learned that partnering with other professionals provides more appropriate, informed, and effective assessments and interventions that serve our patients better.”

This article was originally featured in the Spring 2021 Edition of Eastern Magazine. View the full magazine here.