March 21, 2023

California Baptist University’s First Year Experience program has teamed up with the Interprofessional Education Learning Resource Center at the College of Nursing to train FYE leaders using simulation experiences.

The Fall 2020 FYE team is made up of 82 student leaders and 8 interns. The FYE administrators, assisted by staff members at the College of Nursing, have created separate simulations for both leaders and interns that meet the demands of the individual positions. Examples of simulations include how to deal with disruptive students and working with students struggling with depression, anxiety or suicidal thoughts.

“Simulation allows them to practice and apply skills in a safe environment where they can make mistakes and learn from these mistakes so that they are better prepared to respond in real life,” said Sarah Pearce, director of the Simulation and Standardized Patient Program.

Pearce said the College of Nursing has enjoyed creating non-healthcare-related, simulation-based learning activities for FYE.

The goal of the simulation training is to prepare leaders and interns for real-life situations they might face while working for FYE. The simulations are designed to help leaders learn to communicate effectively with their students, fellow leaders and FYE interns.

Gavin Andrews, director of FYE, said seeing the simulations play out was incredible. Before starting the FYE simulations, Andrews said he was able to sit in on a few nursing simulations to understand the process and implementation methods.

“I can see the nurses as they go through that training and how they come out of it,” Andrews said. “They can learn from that environment. When they debrief, they see what they did well and what they can improve upon next time. The lessons learned in those trainings are going to last when they go into their real patient rooms in the hospital. We want to provide a similar atmosphere.”

Pearce said the learning experiences provide students in healthcare professions with realistic and immersive training. Pearce also explained some of the many benefits of simulation training.

“Receiving direct and targeted feedback, in addition to providing them with the opportunity for self-reflection before, during and after debriefing, to prepare them for their transition to practice,” Pearce said. “Which in turn increases the quality care and safety of the patients and clients these students will serve in their professional careers.”

Each simulation scenario is detailed with character roles. How they interact, what they say, what should happen and where things go in the set are all predetermined.

The idea for the training came from Connor Pacharis, senior business administration major and student worker for the Interprofessional Education Learning Resource Center, who worked as an FYE leader in 2018. Pacharis’s experience in both fields gave him the idea to present the techniques he believed would benefit FYE leaders.

“I worked with the simulation director, Sarah Pearce, along with the FYE administration, to develop some scenarios for their leaders and interns,” Pacharis said. “Currently, I am helping their staff update and develop more simulation and experiential education activities for next fall’s training.”

Pacharis said he hopes the new training will help ease any stress leaders are feeling regarding FYE.

“He was key to making this happen,” Andrews said about Pacharis’s role in the new training. “He worked hard to put some of these scenarios together using what they had in nursing and how that can work on our end.”

The new training has been a collaborative effort between many departments at CBU, bringing together teams and individuals for the collective goal of serving students in a new way.

“It would be amazing to see multiple departments collaborate in a single experiential learning event,” Pacharis said. “Putting an RA, an FYE leader and a Community Life intern in a room and saying, ’Here is an unreached population at CBU – how can we use the resources of our offices to reach them together?’ I see education moving toward a more collaborative attitude — so seeing it here would be very rewarding.”

FYE is planning to do three or four scenarios in a season. Some simulations are more one-on-one role-playing scenarios, whereas others are in classroom settings.

“We want students to know that they are cared for, to know that we have thought this through,” Andrews said. “We want to come alongside them and help them through their first-year experience in whatever facet they are going through, and we take our training seriously to best equip our leaders to handle whatever situation our freshmen or transfer students come into CBU with.”

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