Objectives Since the Covid-19 pandemic we have faced increasing challenges in managing adolescent physical and mental health. The rate of probable mental health disorders is now 1 in 6 amongst 11–16 year olds1 and there has been a 90% increase in young people with eating disorders over the last 5 years.2 We need to support health professionals in delivering high quality adolescent care. We looked at whether an innovative model of virtual simulation could be used to meet learning needs.
Objectives of our educational initiative:
To identify key topics and challenges in adolescent mental and physical health
To reflect on whether virtual simulation works for developing communication and management skills
To consider whether the initiative can be expanded to a wider audience
Methods 30 attendees took part in an online study day representing professionals working with adolescents across the MDT. The day was centered on four virtual pre-recorded simulations on key topics including eating disorders, ethical situations, medically unexplained symptoms and management of chronic illness.
The simulations were pre-recorded in the simulation centre at Kingston Hospital and professional actors were recruited using recovery funding from Health Education England. The actors were briefed prior to recording each simulation and consultations were filmed with trainee paediatricians working within the London Deanery.
Learning was enhanced by small group discussions in breakout rooms for each simulation and a talk from a key speaker on management corresponding to each of the four topics.
Feedback from the day was collated and evaluated.
Results All participants felt that the study day met their learning needs (100%). All topics scored between 4.5 and 5 out of 5 for content and delivery.
The format of virtual simulation was well received. 100% of participants were in agreement that the study day should continue to run as a virtual course, and that the interactive online format worked well for the simulations and lectures.
Qualitative feedback ‘A really helpful day addressing lots of key themes and issues that we encounter as we care for young people……the mix of discussion, small groups, simulation and seminars was brilliant.’
‘Excellent format to cover this topic, less pressure for attendees and breakout discussions and sim broke up the day.’
‘Really useful to learn how to talk about difficult and tricky subjects with young people.’
Conclusions The study day met participants learning needs and covered relevant topics in adolescent health. The concept of pre-recorded virtual simulation worked well with comments that it allowed learning in a less pressured environment. Using breakout rooms for discussion and debriefing with an allocated instructor provided continuity throughout the day and ensured psychological safety of the participants
The demand and need for further training in adolescent health is there and there is evidence that this learning model is effective and could be used to roll out training across the region.
The Mental Health of Children and Young People in England 2021, NHS Digital
Eating Disorders: Guidance is issued to doctors after 84% rise in past five years. BMJ 2022; J. Wise.
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