Developing simulation to meet practice competencies at a coordinated program in dietetics
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Dietetics programs have begun to incorporate simulations into curriculum in the last few decades. Simulations are replicated patient interactions that can use Standard Patients, which are trained human actors who role-play a patient. Standard Patients provide real-life clinical scenarios for students to practice skills learned in the classroom. Previous research has shown that implementing simulation into dietetics training can provide benefits to dietetic students such as practicing skills in a low-risk environment, experiencing exposure to complex clinical cases, and receiving high quality feedback from evaluators. This observational study investigated the effect of using Standard Patient simulations to measure nutrition care and communication ACEND® competencies across three simulation events and two evaluator methods. Forty Master's dietetic students at the University of Missouri participated in three consecutive simulation events across two years of instruction. Simulation events were observed and evaluated by the Standard Patients and faculty of the program. A repeated-measures ANOVA technique was used to test for change in Standard Patient and faculty evaluations of nutrition care and communication competencies across the three events. The Standard Patient and faculty ratings of nutrition care improved across time but not significantly, though nearly significantly (p = 0.054, and p = 0.067, respectively). No significant differences were observed across communication scores. Simulation is an innovative and useful educational tool to use in dietetics training. Future research can help further establish how to use simulation most strategically with consideration of available resources.