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“We use SimChart® as the electronic health record (EHR) for our simulations,” says Madeline Lassche, MSNEd, RN, a Clinical Instructor and Simulation Learning Center Instructor in the University of Utah College of Nursing (UUCN). “The students love it because it’s easy to use, and the flexibility for me to change or add a new scenario on the fly is great.”
UUCN has been using SimChart since being involved in the pilot program after switching from another electronic health record (EHR) product. Lassche says SimChart has several advantages for both students and faculty, starting with ease of use.
“SimChart is easy to use,” she says. “That’s the number one thing students say too; it’s just so simple to use. They can find information quickly and chart quickly.” In fact, when the college was trialing SimChart with second semester students, first semester students lobbied to be able to use the system.
UUCN’s previous system also had limited backend opportunities to make changes, so faculty had to go through the company, adding time and complexity. “I love how on this system, if I want to change a scenario, I can quickly pull up a case study, type in some orders, any information, and make changes,” Lassche says. This feature allows faculty to customize material to better meet students’ needs. She also uses SimChart to trial new patient situations to see how they work before fleshing them out into full scenarios.
Another advantage of SimChart is that all students can now chart on the same patient because the record is linked to their names.
Lassche says SimChart is already an integral part of simulations and faculty are starting to use the Elsevier-provided case studies in classes. “We want to be sure the simulation, the clinical, and the didactic experience have the same objectives during the same week,” she notes. SimChart helps faculty accomplish that goal. “The three areas can reinforce each other right on the SimChart.” In essence, SimChart provides a consistent EHR experience in the classroom, in the simulation lab, and in clinicals.
Lassche notes that remembering what questions to ask during the admission process in order to document all the necessary information can be challenging for students, but SimChart’s features not only make the process easier, but also promote learning by encouraging students to think like nurses. “Students appreciate that the cues and checkboxes reinforce what they have learned from their didactic experience,” she says.
In addition to using SimChart in the simulation lab, the university uses the case studies available in the EHR in their didactic classes. “The students love them,” says Lassche, who adds that the system promotes critical thinking by prompting students with questions and allowing them to easily find information.
Another SimChart tool they use is the Pre-Clinical Manager, which prepares students for clinical experiences by allowing them to research and document the diagnoses, medications, and diagnostic tests for patients.
Lassche says SimChart helps UUCN meet American Association of the Colleges of Nursing competency standards that include the need for students to be able to use an EHR.
Future plans at UUCN include using SimChart to help promote greater integration of teamwork into the curriculum. Lassche says the college is planning a pilot of a 3-hour long scenario to mimic a hospital unit with multiple patients. The scenario would include pharmacy, physician, nursing and nurse practitioner students.
Lassche says SimChart’s order entry capability would enhance scenario realism. “Physician and NP students can order meds, and the orders will pop up in the scenarios.”
“Fourth semester outcomes are wrapped around the teamwork initiative and achieving quality and safety using more than one discipline,” adds Lassche. She sees SimChart as a good tool for achieving those goals.