The Role of Simulation in Allied Health Education

At Pocket Nurse® we serve more than just nurses; we also serve allied health professionals. It’s crucial to understand this complex term in order to support our customers’ needs. I began learning about allied health in early 2016. Here is a short summary of what I learned.

What is Allied Health?
Allied health includes a broad group of health professionals who use scientific principles and evidence-based practice to prevent, identify, evaluate, and treat diseases and disorders.

Over 200 health careers are considered allied health including many of the well-known non-nurse, non-physician roles. Some examples are speech language pathologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, emergency medical personnel, pharmacy personnel (technicians and assistants), and physician assistants.

Who is Allied Health?
Estimates suggest as much as 60 percent of the U.S. healthcare workforce is allied health. One definition describes allied health professionals as medical practitioners with some formal education and clinical training who are credentialed through a certification, registration, and/or licensing process (Fitzgerald, 2006).

These roles are changing. Three trends are restructuring healthcare in the United States: an aging population, increasing demand for home health services, and rising costs. As a result, professionals are under constant pressure to be more knowledgeable.

In an effort to meet demands, schools are refining their instructional methods, mainly by adopting and expanding simulation-based learning.

Allied Health and Simulation
Simulation is often used in an effort to improve patient safety as it provides students an opportunity to learn without risking patients’ lives (Burgess, 2007; Okuda et al., 2009; Seropian, 2003).

The 2001 report, Crossing the Quality Chasm, identified six areas of improvement to reduce quality concerns in healthcare:

  • Safety
  • Effectiveness
  • Patient-centeredness
  • Timeliness
  • Efficiency
  • Equity

While simulation in higher education could address some of these, limited faculties prevent full adoption of hands-on learning. For full effectiveness, scenarios must be created, facilitated, and overseen, and students must be debriefed. The constant interaction between expert instructors and students can get costly.

Simulation can greatly improve patient outcomes, but only if institutions of higher learning are willing to allocate funding for equipment and faculty, time for faculty training, and resources to maintain tools and facilities.

Learn more by downloading The Role of Simulation in Allied Health Education white paper.

This is a guest post from Bruce Kolder, Manager of Supply Chain Operations at Pocket Nurse. Kolder supervises the supply chain planning team while promoting a productive and collaborative work environment based on operating budgets, priority control, and order fulfillment.

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