College of Nursing Response to the Ebola Education Crisis: The Need for a Safe, Interactive, Clinical Education Strategy

Sunday, 8 November 2015: 4:20 PM

Linda Carl, EdD, MSN, BSN, BGS, RN
Graduate Program/ Nursing Informatics Track, Chamberlain College of Nursing, Downer Grove, IL, USA
Dee McGonigle, PhD, MSN, BSN, RN, CNE, FAAN, ANEF
Chamberlain College of Nursing, Downer's Grove, IL, USA

In 2014, reports emerged about spread of the deadly Ebola virus from South Africa to the United States (US) (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, 2014). News media, political figures, healthcare professionals, and the public showed grave concern and fear over healthcare delivery system failures to protect against cross contamination across US borders, in the community, and within hospitals. As the Ebola crisis played out in multi-media forums and around the world, hospitals and providers voiced the need to know how to render safe and effective care and how to protect from acquiring the virus while treating an infected patient (American Nurses Association, 2014). The College of Nursing immediately responded to the Ebola pandemic recognizing the need to incorporate the global crisis into a safe and accessible 3D virtual learning environment (VLE) free from the risk of exposure to the virulent infection. A Virtual Ebola Treatment Center was built by an interprofessional education and simulation-animation team that included nursing students, a faculty mentor, a virtual environment designer and developer, a virtual world specialist, and supportive administrative leadership. With mentor guidance, the students proposed an architectural design for the Center in the School of Nursing virtual learning space that was underpinned by an education model designed to provide realistic and protected learning for students, partner organizations, and stakeholders. The Ebola Treatment Center came to life with scripted simulations and animations framed in the novel education model. The model provides unlimited access to learning opportunities and data that enhances education delivery for each student. The simulated-animated clinical practicum is grounded in project management principles and the data, information, knowledge, and wisdom (DIKW) model using an interprofessional practice framework (McGonigle & Mastrian, 2015). The model includes 3D simulated infrastructure, teaming processes, crisis and disaster management workflow, and assessment of costs necessary to prevent, treat, and contain a biological public health crisis. The importance of the interactive learning education model to the conference theme is that the model demonstrates how web-based clinical education strategies, coupled with clinical simulation and animation methodologies, disseminates evidence-based practice standards in a safe, effective virtual learning environment. The model provides an opportunity to acquire screening, treatment, crisis management, and leadership knowledge to apply in the real world without the risk of contracting communicable diseases. The methods used include practicum faculty acting as mentors to facilitate learning, to monitor and evaluate clinical learning outcomes, and to guide critical debriefings. The disruptive innovation model is used to drive virtual learning experience process change in real time based on formative and summative data analyzed from student performance and success criteria. Expanding the virtual Treatment Center infrastructure, in strategically planned steps, and the inclusion of fixed and live avatar patients and providers, personal protective equipment, robotics, air ambulances, and emergency services, excite the interactive learning. Protocol driven patient admissions include safe donning and doffing of personal protective gear, HazMat Suits, patient containment transport units, a Bio-containment room, and a Quarantine ante-room. The learning simulation-animation scripts will be updated to mimic lessons learned based on real world root cause analyses. The implications for the use of evidence-based clinical education strategies is focused on protecting the US Homeland from the spread of Ebola and other infectious disease and will include disaster response to biological, biochemical, and other terrorist threats. Using new knowledge gained, and depending on the student demographic, the Homeland may be simulated in different parts of the world or use scripted avatar role play with diverse ethnicity creating culturally competent learning while students share vast differences in values, beliefs, and worldviews. The disparities provide the learner with the wisdom to engage in evidence-based clinical, political, and global decision-making in the best interest of the public good in the real world.


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