Nursing students at the University of Tampa improve clinical reasoning with ReelDx

Over 30 years ago, Dr. Michele Wolf, MSN Program Director at the University of Tampa, started her career as an ER/Trauma nurse and for the last eight years has worked as a Family Nurse Practitioner. Since then, she has earned a master’s degree and recently completed her DNP, specializing in family practice, adult and geriatrics, and acute care. Training nurses is a passion of Dr. Wolf’s. However, designing programs that engage today’s students and foster a collaborative environment has proven difficult. Budget restrictions, resistance by some faculty to new technologies, and technical limitations are just some of the reasons that transforming the educating of nurses and nurse practitioners has been challenging.

In 2013, Dr. Wolf started looking for a way to create a hands-on learning environment for her students where they could be exposed to working with and diagnosing real patients. “I had grown frustrated because we weren’t able to bring the clinical environment into our training program,” said Dr. Wolf. “We wanted to find a way to make teaching more collaborative, where the students could ask questions of each other, be more engaged, and not make them have to sit through hours of PowerPoint presentations.”

Enter ReelDx, whose innovative medical video technology helps students learn how to diagnose and treat patients by observing real provider encounters via video. At the University of Tampa, the technology is used in the classroom and the simulation lab.

In the classroom, the lecturer presents a video of a real patient. The students work in pairs or small groups to review the patient video, vitals and demographics, develop a plan and present to the class in traditional SOAP (subjective, objective, assessment, and plan) note format. This type of learning activity differs from the traditional “sage on the stage” method where a lecturer might present for two or three hours and hope that the students absorb the most critical elements of patient assessment.

In the simulation lab, on the video screen next to the bed, the real patient describes their symptoms and the nursing students assess the patient’s health, make the diagnosis and order tests, in collaboration with their classmates. By the end of their training, each student will run a simulation completely on their own. This better prepares students to work with real patients and expands their clinical reasoning long before they work with real patients.

As Dr. Wolf commented, “What better way to teach than to manage patients who are presenting real symptoms. The students are working together to determine the best course of treatment.”

For example, in one assessment, a female patient presented with abdominal pains but reported there was absolutely no chance of pregnancy. In this simulation, one group of students accidentally forgot to order a pregnancy test before sending the patient for imaging. The lack of a result in the patient’s record was caught by another provider before the patient underwent an x-ray. As it turned out, the patient was actually pregnant. As Dr. Wolf stated, “I doubt that any of the nurses who were part of that training will ever make that mistake again.”

Transforming health care education is challenging, particularly when asking educators to rethink their approach. Much to her delight, Dr. Wolf has seen her colleagues gravitate to ReelDx’s technology. “At first many of the professors were hesitant to try a new way of teaching their students. But once they saw how easy it was to use and the impact that it had on their students, they all asked how quickly they could begin using ReelDx.”

Watch this Spotlight on Innovation to learn more about how the University of Tampa is using ReelDx to improve collaboration between students, increase student engagement, improve patient care, and reduce the current workload professors are managing.

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