Training Highlight: Interprofessional Education Focuses on Error Disclosure with Health Sciences Students

Students from the University of Washington’s Schools of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy gathered recently for a training opportunity at the Institute for Simulation and Interprofessional Studies facility in the UW Medical Center and in the Health Sciences Building. This interprofessional education (IPE) training focused on how to effectively disclose an error to a patient’s family member. 

Prior to the training, students prepared by learning effective practices and appropriate language for this sort of interaction. During the session, students were divided into three teams which consisted of students from of each profession.  As a group, each team was then tasked with disclosing the error to an actress playing the patient’s granddaughter. This scenario simulated a real-life situation that involved multiple members of the healthcare team.

In this particular scenario, the ‘granddaughter’ posed new challenges to each team, oscillating between confusion, sadness, and anger. Students focused on discussing the error while incorporating apologies, taking shared responsibility for the error, positive nonverbal communication, and information about preventing future mistakes from happening. Participants balanced the sharing of technical knowledge with responding to the family member’s emotional needs.

 This IPE session is an example of how the Institute supports the University of Washington’s mission of furthering interprofessional education for students within the health sciences. Simulation is an effective manner to carry out this work, as demonstrated by the training described above.  

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