Using standardized patients in an undergraduate mental health simulation: a pilot study

Louise Alexander, Amy Dearsley

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24 Citations (Scopus)


Simulation is a technique of reproducing the performance of a desired circumstance or procedure by means of an equivalent scenario for the purpose of observation or tuition. The overwhelming shortfall in this process is the absence of the human element - the individual patient s response to illness. Little is known about the use of simulation in the mental health component of an undergraduate curriculum. This pilot study aimed to explore the impact of an integrated-simulation approach on second-year undergraduate nursing students preparedness for a mental health placement. Students completed a questionnaire pre- and post-clinical placement to determine whether the simulations improved their confidence about communication and assessment skill development. Students found the experience of engaging in a mental health simulation with standardized patients a positive experience. They noted that the experience increased their confidence, encouraged professionalism, enhanced their understanding of mental illness presentations, and was also clinically realistic. The benefits of using simulation to address mental health placement shortfalls mean that all students can be guaranteed a controlled and safe interaction with a mental health client. Simulation should not be seen as the poor cousin to hospital-based clinical placement. Rather it provides a comprehensive opportunity to engage in an immersive, secure, and innovative learning environment where safe clinical decision-making opportunities are abundant
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149 - 164
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Mental Health
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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