Computer simulation of clinical encounters as a method of enhancing nutrition care planning skills in dietetic interns
A computer-based simulation system was developed to include three realistic scenarios of patients with differing types of cardiovascular disease. These simulations (CPSS) or an alternative computer tutorial experience (NCPT) were used by beginning dietetic interns during the orientation phase of their internship programs. Following this, interns were evaluated by their clinical preceptors using a performance evaluation tool for the first eight weeks of their clinical rotations. Results of the performance evaluation tool were analyzed to evaluate the impact of simulation use on development of nutrition care planning skills.
For behaviors related to the nutrition care planning process, CPSS users tended to be rated higher than NCPT users during the first three weeks of clinical rotations. No differences were found for weeks four through eight. For behaviors related to other aspects of nutrition care delivery, CPSS and NCPT users were not rated differently with the exception of behaviors related to communicating and managing nutrition care delivery. Here, CPSS users were rated higher in the initial clinical rotations (weeks one and two). Inconsistent effects of immediate vs. delayed clinical experience and interactions between the type of computer experience and the timing of clinical experience were noted.
The use of computer-based simulations appears to be a useful adjunct to other educational tools in preparing dietetic students for clinical rotations. Further development of the simulation system and more comprehensive study of its effectiveness is warranted to determine the potential contribution of computer-based simulations to the dietetic education process.
0350: Health education