Using Standardized Patients in Enhancing Undergraduate Students's Learning Experience in Mental Health Nursing

Monday, 30 October 2017

Yong-Shian Goh, PhD, MN, RN, RMN
Alice Lee Center for Nursing Studies, National University of Singapore, Singapore, Singapore

Background: Conducting mental status examination and suicide risk assessment is an important skill required of nurses when they are in the clinical setting. With nursing students often expressing the anxiety and lack of confidence in doing so, the use of standardised patients provide an excellent opportunity to practice and become proficient with this skill in a simulated environment.

Objectives: to explore the learning experience of undergraduate nursing students using standardised patients while practising their mental status examination and suicide risk assessment skills in mental health nursing module.

Design: A pre and post-test, single group quasi experimental design was used in this study. A standard didactic tutorial session and a standardized patient session was conducted to evaluate the learning experience of undergraduate nursing students learning mental status examination and suicide risk assessment. Outcome measures for this study includes Student Satisfaction and Self-Confidence in learning scale. Qualitative comments in the form of open-ended questions were also collected in this study.

Settings: A University offering nursing program from undergraduate to postgraduate level.

Participants: A convenience sample of Year 2 undergraduate nursing students undertaking the mental health nursing module were included in this study.

Results: The use of standardized patient session had significantly increased students’ satisfaction and confidence level before they are posted to a mental health setting for their clinical attachment. There was a significant difference on students’ self-confidence level for those who have taken care of a patient with mental illness after adjusting for pre-test on score in learning. Qualitative feedback obtained from students showed a positive outlook towards the use of standardized patient as an effective tool in augmenting didactic learning into practical skills.

Conclusions: Using standardized patient in mental health nursing education enhanced the integration of didactic content into clinical setting allowing students to practice their assessment skills learned in classroom and transfer it to the clinical area. The benefits of using standardized patient include allowing students to practice their communication skills and improving their confidence level in conducting mental status examination and suicide risk assessment by reducing anxiety as compared with traditional classroom and textbook-based pedagogy.