Mastery of Core Mental Health Concepts Through Simulation, Clinical Performance, and Interactive Practices

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Kim Johnson, MSN
School of Health Sciences, Middle Georgia State University, Macon, GA, USA

Purpose:  To improve student progression to mastery of core concepts in mental health through simulation, clinical performance, and reflective journaling with Undergraduate Nursing students in their first year of nursing school.


Does simulation, clinical performance, group projects, and other interactive learning improve students’ progression to mastery of core concepts in mental health with first year undergraduate nursing students?

A Pilot project was designed for implementation for 2 consecutive semesters:

Problem: Undergraduate nursing students will play pivotal therapeutic roles in the care of patients suffering from mental illness. Their recognition of presenting symptoms and use of evidenced- based treatment to support optimal levels of functioning emphasize the need for best practices in preparing future BSN nurse advocates. Patients suffering from mental illness are represented in an array of clinical settings, thus undergraduate students need to develop competence, compassion, and judicial understanding of presenting symptoms. Moreover, core concepts linked to relatedness, vulnerability, and integrity are difficult to master from a lecture based teaching format. Educators must employ a variety of teaching methods to assess and evaluate students’ competency of these core concepts.

Theoretical Framework: Constructivism provides a basis of learning by immersing students in collaborative projects to teach essential core concepts (Alt, 2015). We will use interactive based learning to improve student understanding of mental illness concepts. To provide each student with the opportunity to assimilate concepts into practice, we will assign interactive assignments that promote adaptive learning. To determine whether students have developed understanding of core concepts and can apply their learning to practice, we will employ an efficacy survey and collect self- reflective journaling. Percentages of perceived value will be aggregated to determine learning experience impact.

Methods:  tudents enrolled in the NURS 3111 course will be introduced to core concepts through reading materials, lecture, and presentations. Students will have the opportunity to demonstrate understanding of the concepts in a simulation day offered once a semester, weekly clinical performances, on 4 unit exams and a final exam in the course. Students will be evaluated during clinical performance over a 10-week course during weekly debriefings and will submit weekly self- reflective journals. At the end of the 15-week semester, students will complete an efficacy survey which will measure their perceived knowledge, their commitment to use the new skills in practice, and their opinion of the value of the assignment. Written comments regarding student’s perceived learning both valued and non-valued comments will be evaluated.

Results:  Findings will be presented based on student’s scale of efficacy and self- reflective journaling. I will provide an overview of current research regarding various learning experiences used to teach mental health concepts. I will share aggregated comments of undergraduate BSN nursing students who have participated in the identified interactive and their perceived comprehension of mental health concepts.

Conclusion: Improved student progression of the mastery of core concepts in mental health through simulation, clinical performance, and reflective journaling with Undergraduate Nursing students in their first year of nursing school improves their compassion and ability to provide care to mentally ill clients in clinical scenarios.