Simulation in mental health interprofessional education

Cassandra (Sammy) Iammarino, Jessie Johnson, Monica Zolezzi, Zohra Samnani Hasnani


Purpose: Mental health care involves multiple professionals from diverse backgrounds providing interdependent and complex services. Accordingly, care needs to be planned skillfully in partnership with health and social care providers and mental health service users. Working from an interprofessional lens enables professionals to work collaboratively to affect care that is safe and improves health outcomes. Yet, in practice there is often a disconnect between mental health care professionals that hinders collaborative practice and impacts the quality of care. Furthermore, stigmatization of mental illness continues to pervade health care professionals’ attitudes which serves to further compromise health outcomes. Interprofessional education (IPE) using simulation is proposed as an effective teaching and learning method to improve collaborative practice and decrease stigma amongst mental health care professionals in undergraduate education. Approach: Undergraduate nursing and pharmacy students from two universities participated in a one-day IPE event. During the event, students collaboratively interviewed standardized patients portraying mental health service users and developed an interprofessional plan of care. Faculty perspectives of the event were gathered to identify challenges and recommendations for ongoing implementation. Findings: Current literature and faculty facilitator feedback supports IPE using simulation as an effective teaching and learning strategy to develop therapeutic communication skills, address stigma amongst students prior to practice, clarify professional roles, and improve interprofessional collaboration. Faculty facilitator recommendations to improve the implementation of IPE with healthcare professionals during undergraduate education include early introduction of IPE, adequate preparation for students, realistic case scenarios, facilitator and standardized patient training, and funding to support events. Conclusion: The use of standardized patients in the context of interprofessional mental health education is a strategy with the potential to improve collaborative practice and address mental illness stigma amongst health care professionals. Further research with students is needed to evaluate the effectiveness of simulation in mental health IPE.

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Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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