Telemedicine has evolved as a beneficial tool in healthcare, providing alternative pathways for care delivery. As this trend continues, there’s a corresponding need for more virtual nursing, which necessitates targeted training to ensure the successful adoption of new technologies and to maintain the quality of patient care.
This shift to virtual care introduces a unique approach to training — the use of remote standardized patients, often abbreviated as SPs. SPs are more than just everyday patients; they are actors trained to consistently recreate specific patient scenarios. This method provides a highly effective way for nurses to acquire hands-on telemedicine skills.
Remote Patient Assessment
Telemedicine puts a new spin on patient assessment. Instead of getting up close and personal, nurses are now relying on their observation skills, patient-reported info, and data from home monitoring devices. That’s where remote SPs come in, offering nurses a way to practice using scenarios that are as close to real life as it gets.
Think of an SP portraying a patient with heart disease, sending ECG readings from a home monitor. Or a scenario about a medication review for a patient that can’t make it into the office. It’s a great way for nurses to adapt their assessment techniques to the virtual world.
Remote Communication Skills
Training with remote SPs can help nurses fine-tune their remote communication skills. Empathy, reading non-verbal cues, and active listening become even more essential to build a strong bond with patients.
Empathy often needs to be more overt in virtual interactions since some non-verbal cues may not come across well digitally. For instance, a nurse’s attentive posture or understanding touch can communicate empathy in person, but it’s trickier in telemedicine. So, nurses might express empathy verbally, like, “I can see how tough this is for you,” or “What you’re feeling is totally valid,” to reassure patients and make them feel heard.
Non-verbal cues can be harder to pick up during video calls, and practicing with remote SPs can help a lot. SPs can portray various behavioral affects that virtual nurses can practice responding to. Suppose an SP continually looks away or seems anxious while discussing a new treatment plan. Nurses can use this as an opportunity to check in and take the time to explain the procedure further, if necessary. Nurses could repeat this exercise with high-emotion scenarios, like anger or end-of-life care, in a safe space while they make mistakes and try new things.
When limited to a 1920×1080 video interface, active listening is paramount to maintaining that human connection. Have you ever been in a meeting where you witness a few heads down and wonder if they’re taking notes or disengaged on their phones? What about when two people speak at the same time, or their microphone drops every third word, and you’re piecing it together as best as you can? Active listening speaks to hearing the patient’s full story, being present, asking clarifying questions, and being able to summarize along the way. Nurses still take notes as needed, but they need to let the patient know what’s happening outside the frame. These small new habits can prevent missed information and help improve patient outcomes.
Home-Based Care Instructions
Telehealth allows nurses to be in a position they may have never been able to before — in the patient’s home! This is an exciting opportunity to learn about a patient’s environment and conduct care at the source.
This could mean anything from home evaluations, self-examinations, using medical devices, or even following along with physiotherapy exercises. Here again, remote SPs can have training value, providing a realistic way for nurses to practice giving instructions.
Imagine an SP portraying a patient recently discharged with high blood pressure, and they need to check their blood pressure at home. With an SP, the nurse can practice explaining the process clearly, from positioning the cuff to reading the results. By seeing them in their homes, nurses can observe and offer guidance in a whole new way.
After the simulation, the SP can provide instant feedback on the clarity and effectiveness of the instructions they received, as well as their comfort in performing the task. This is an invaluable chance for nurses to brush up on their remote instructional skills.
In conclusion, while telemedicine requires a different skill set, authentic simulations with SPs are helping nurses refine their skills and improve the quality of virtual care. It’s a big leap forward in preparing our healthcare providers for the future.
Want to enhance your telemedicine skills with real-world practice? SP-ed is here with an award-winning platform offering one-on-one remote interactions with standardized patients (SPs). Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned healthcare professional, our service brings patient scenarios to life, creating a unique, valuable component in professional development. If you want to add this to your telemedicine training, click here to contact us.