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Students not finding time for compassion: academic

Empathy and compassion are often lacking when students engage with simulation technologies in nursing programs, a lecturer has said.

Sue Dean, a lecturer at the University of Technology Sydney, wrote about the topic in the Journal of Advanced Nursing.

Dean said use of simulation technologies, such as high-fidelity mannequins, has sparked concern about the quality of nurses' communication in their professional practice. In the editorial, Dean recalled seeing this technology being used during the opening of a simulation laboratory in a large university a few years ago. There, she noticed a few red flags.

“What caused us much consternation whilst observing the demonstration was that not once in the interaction did any attending ‘nurse’ acknowledge the anxiety the ‘patient’ would have undoubtedly been feeling, let alone address any of his likely emotional or psychological concerns,” Dean wrote. “In other words, the actual person in the bed was ignored in favour of the technology and the purely physiological data it provided.”

In an interview with Nursing Review, Dean said: “I ran some focus groups and asked students who'd been working with the mannequins over a period of time how they related to the patient in the bed, what they focused on. Basically, what came out of the focus group data was that they were so busy focusing on the clinical skills that they needed to achieve while they were in the laboratories, that they paid little attention to the patient as a person.

Dean said while the students reported they were encouraged by the academics who were running the laboratories to relate to the patient as a person, their concerns related to the fact that they often didn't have time to do so.

“If they did relate to the mannequin in the bed as a patient, other students laughed at them and thought they were being silly,” she said.

In the interview, Dean discussed her concerns surrounding an increased focus on this type of technical or data-driven learning and shared what she thinks should be done to address some of these issues.

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