Nursing students apply skills in domestic violence simulation

Apr 30, 2013 | Applied and Natural Sciences

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Louisiana Tech University Nursing 210 students opened the door to “GTM Memorial Hospital” and found a “victim” of domestic violence weeping in a wheelchair.

The 17 students enrolled in Nursing 210 were part of a pilot simulation, “Application of Forensic Nursing to High Risk Pregnancy,” developed by Tanya Sims, associate professor of nursing, and Patti McFadden, an assistant professor of nursing.

Nursing students at Louisiana Tech care for a domestic violence 'victim' during a simulation exercise.

Nursing students at Louisiana Tech care for a domestic violence ‘victim’ during a simulation exercise.

Students were assigned to groups and were then informed of the mock scenario in which police had brought a battered, pregnant female to the Emergency Department after a 9-1-1 phone call resulted in the arrest of the abuser.  The nursing students called upon skills of therapeutic communication, prenatal assessment and recognition of high-risk pregnancy complications as a result of the abusive situation in order to treat the “patient.”

McFadden, a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, conducted a training session utilizing the Noelle Birthing Simulator on collection of forensic evidence in sexual and physical abuse cases, with key points given for nurses caring for these clients.

The “victim” in this scenario was actually the result of a collaboration with DART (Domestic Abuse Resistance Team) Advocate Deborah Faircloth, who gave an accurate performance of the behavior that would be exhibited by an abused client and even donned an “Empathy Belly” to simulate pregnancy, maternity clothes, wig and makeup.  This concept is known as a “Standardized Patient” for nursing simulations, in which an expert actor is utilized to give the scenario a realistic approach.

Safety was the emphasis for this exercise, with relevance to the client’s emotional state, need for care of the pregnancy and the unborn fetus, and medications utilized in the scenario.

Student evaluations were positive for this simulation, which was scheduled for this time because April is designated as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Written by T. Scott Boatright –