International health expert praises RGU students’ simulation project

Professor Don Berwick, US President Barack Obama’s former health adviser, has praised work on simulation in pharmacy presented by students from Robert Gordon University (RGU) at a recent Institute for Health Improvement (IHI) webinar.

RGU students recently held their first patient safety chapter meeting in Riverside East.Prof Berwick, the author of a major review of the NHS in England, gave the RGU team a special mention for their ideas about simulation and patient safety. His review, published in August, stated that patient safety must become the top priority in the NHS in England.

During the online event, Prof Berwick said that simulation is a powerful tool, especially for teaching human factors such as difficult or emotional situations. He also asked the team to develop a ‘Disclosure and Apology’ simulation on how to disclose to patients and families that a mistake has been made and apologise to them.

The student team is part of the Pharmacy School Learning Enhancement team set up by Dr Helen Vosper, Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Sciences, as a result of taking part in an HEA Change Programme in 2012.

Dr Vosper’s HEA funded project ‘Responding to the National Student Survey (NSS) in the Disciplines with the ultimate goal of embedding simulation in the Pharmacy curriculum at RGU’ sought to introduce simulation on a pharmacology and therapeutics modules by replacing lectures and coursework with clinical simulation activities, interactive hand-outs and online content.

Findings from the pilots have played a key part in the development of RGU’s new pharmacy professional experiences programme. The approach from the pilots has also been incorporated into the development of the MPharm Teaching, Learning and Assessment strategy.

Since taking part in the Change Programme the project has developed significantly and aspects are being rolled out to other courses, both within RGU and at other institutions.

Helen’s team is also linking with another project funded by the Scottish Government and NHS Education Scotland (NES) which involves students in course design and developing common teaching between medicine, pharmacy and similar courses.

The team is in the process of formalising this in-house at RGU, and because it is linking into the Scotland-wide project, this will then involve students at other universities as well.

Helen has invited students onto the university’s School Learning Enhancement Team to be involved with course design, and is providing training so that the students are familiar with curricular alignment and assessment practice.

Third year Pharmacy undergraduate Kirsty Regan is part of the team developing a simulated risk assessment project for cardiovascular patients, which is linked to a lot of the skills needed in pharmacy.

“Student input has changed dramatically since last year,” she said.  “Our enthusiasm has taken off, especially for patient safety and we’ve now set up a student-led Patient Safety Chapter of the IHI.”

Geoff Glover, HEA Assistant Director and Head of Health and Social Care, said: “This is fantastic example of the impact of our change programmes and sustainability of our input within higher education.”