Exploring the role of pediatric simulated patients in the teaching of pediatric communication skills in health education
LE3 .A278 2021
Master of Education
Purpose: Effective pediatric communication plays a essential role in quality pediatric care making it an important component in pediatric health education. Pediatric simulated patients (PSPs) are real children recruited (with their parents/guardians) to work with health education learners in order to provide a valuable and authentic experiential learning opportunity. The literature regarding their involvement, role, and benefit is limited and by exploring learners’, as well as parents/guardians and educators, thoughts, feelings, and experiences it may create a textual framework and provide a possible application for developing pediatric communication skills. This study explored the role of PSPs in the teaching of pediatric communication skills in health education. Method: Following an interpretive research paradigm informed by a social constructivist theoretical framework, this study utilized a case study approach for its data collection. Results from 12 interviews (five with learners–three in medicine and two in nursing; five with parents/guardians; and two with educators) were analysed using a pre-set and emergent category approach. Results: Participants reported a variety of critical outcomes and needs regarding the teaching and learning of pediatric skills and communication through working with PSPs, including a safe-learning environment, increased learner confidence and comfort, pediatric communication skills, and family-centered care. Other unexpected outcomes and themes emerged from the study, including increased advocacy for own and family’s health and possible changes for pediatric programming and curriculum. Conclusion: This study identified multiple benefits of working with PSPs, defining and solidifying their role in the teaching of pediatric communication skills in health education. These learning opportunities ultimately provided learners with beneficial and valuable exposure and experience working with typically developed children, in the presence of educators, which enhanced the development of their pediatric communication skills and comfortably bridged to real-world experiences. Some suggested initiatives for future pediatric programming, as well as research, were identified, including increased inclusion of PSPs (and the feasibility of including those aged zero to five years) and further exploration into the role parents/guardians and educators play in PSP interactions.
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