Simulation to Target Mental Health

It’s hard to tell what any clinician will see in the span of 24 hours. Emergency rooms are faced with critical situations like heart attacks, gunshot wounds, and car accident injuries. Prompt cares and medical group offices see less urgent conditions like the common cold or viruses. Healthcare providers have to be prepared for it all.

Jump offers hands-on training for many of these types of situations in the form of simulation. The facility is equipped to offer a variety of experience-gathering opportunities. Nurses practice administering medications, medical students and residents refine their suturing skills, and surgeons try out the newest surgical tools on the market. All members of the care team train to work together to carry out advanced cardiac life support.

Jump is excited to expand its curriculum to focus on issues that are not so easily diagnosable, like mental illness.

Behavioral_Health_562 (mental health)

Identifying Mental Health Issues

Like many other specialties, there’s a shortage of mental health professionals. Learning to treat patients with mental health problems is a growing need across the U.S. for both primary care physicians and psychiatrists. Medical students and residents usually learn about mental illness only in a classroom environment before working with real patients.

Simulations can be used to help train clinicians to identify mental health issues and choose appropriate treatment plans. With the help of the curriculum experts at Jump, I recently developed simulation cases for the Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine Department at University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria.

We wanted to utilize resources at Jump to improve this training for the safety of those we care for and ourselves. These simulation scenarios can be applied across all medical specialties, so any clinician can gain experience managing mental health issues.

Managing Scary Situations

As a 4th-year psychiatry resident, I know how easily certain patient interactions can escalate. That possibility can be anxiety-provoking for medical students and residents in their beginning years of training. Many situations do not have a clear-cut algorithm or check-list you can just follow.

For example, a health care provider is assessing a patient who has been hurting him or herself but is not suicidal. How does that clinician decide whether a hospital admission is necessary or if the patient can be sent home with a safety plan? What if a patient is aggressive and agitated? How do providers work together to ensure the safety of the patient and the treatment team? How do you treat either of these patients?

It is my goal for patients with mental illness to receive appropriate treatment from providers who are competent and empathic to the issues they face every day. We have developed simulations allowing unseasoned providers to practice quick decision making in de-escalation tactics, therapeutic skills, and pharmacological management using standardized participants in a low-risk environment. Jump is better equipping clinicians with the tools they’ll need before facing real-life, high-risk situations.

Categories: Education, Psychiatry, Simulation