- Kathy L. Bradley-Klug, Ph.D., Professor and Associate Dean of Research, College of Education, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
- Emily Shaffer-Hudkins, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Morsani College of Medicine, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
- Myesha Morgan, MA, Doctoral Student, College of Education, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
- Katrina Scarimbolo, MA, Doctoral Student, College of Education, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
Experiential or simulated teaching of patient health conditions and associated treatments is becoming an increasingly utilized method of instruction in healthcare training programs. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an even greater need for experiential learning to provide a more interactive component to the virtual platform of most instruction. The pandemic also has made apparent the inequities that exist within healthcare. One key aspect of reducing these disparities is to enhance patient-centered care and the patient-physician relationship by teaching and promoting empathy in meaningful ways. Studies have shown the importance of empathy relative to favorable health outcomes, patient satisfaction, reduction of severe symptoms, and enhancement of cultural competency. Empathy also can serve to enhance students’ understanding of the inequities in healthcare. The purpose of this study, entitled the Diabetes Simulation Challenge, was to implement a unique training tool to foster empathy, a key facet of patient-centered care. Medical students participated in a 24-hour, perspective-taking activity as part of their curriculum, in which they simulated some common experiences of living with type 1 diabetes. Students’ written reflections were analyzed using an exhaustive, iterative qualitative method to determine whether this activity led to expressions of empathy or thoughts and beliefs consistent with patient-centered healthcare. Nine unique themes emerged, six of which indicated that students adopted the perspective of an individual with a chronic illness. Study findings demonstrated an understanding of the behavioral, social, and emotional challenges related to living with type 1 diabetes, as well as increased empathy towards these individuals, in most of the students’ reflections. Medical students who aim to provide patient-centered care benefitted from this perspective-taking exercise and training programs should consider using such methods to extend learning beyond traditional didactic education to help students face healthcare inequities in a more interactive, real-life context with the goal of reducing treatment disparities. Overall, this simulation offered a rich training experience for medical students as they continue to grow in their knowledge and skills related to patient-centered care. This presentation will draw connections to the ability to enhance students’ understanding of empathy, and thus expand their abilities to work towards change in inequities in healthcare.
- use the model presented to develop a simulated learning experience to enhance medical students' patient perspective taking and empathy.
- consider ways to use experiential learning strategies to promote patient-centered care and the understanding of inequities in healthcare.
- understand the value of simulated learning experiences to provide more interactive, safe, and real-life contexts in medical school training programs.