Stephen F. Austin State University

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SFA students gain experience as dietitians through hospital simulation

November 4, 2016 - University Marketing Communications
Stephen F. Austin State University Kilgore junior nutrition major Leah Wilson acts as a dietitian during a simulation. For a class project, Sarah Drake, clinical instructor in SFA's School of Human Sciences, recently collaborated with the DeWitt School of Nursing to provide students in her nutrition counseling course hands-on experience as a dietitian in a hospital simulation setting.
NACOGDOCHES, Texas - With a handful of note cards, Stephen F. Austin State University junior nutrition major Leah Wilson sits in a mock hospital room in SFA's DeWitt School of Nursing's Ed and Gwen Cole Simulation Lab. In front of her, a high-fidelity mannequin comes to life as Sarah Drake, clinical instructor in SFA's School of Human Sciences, operates the mannequin in a control room across the hall.

The mannequin is Mr. Anderson, a 50-year-old newly diagnosed type 2 diabetic, who is being discharged from the hospital. As part of her assignment, Wilson, a Kilgore native, acts as the dietitian assigned to educate Anderson on diabetes and discuss healthy alternatives to change his lifestyle.

"The project was cool because we were able to practice talking with a client and get experience," Wilson said. "I feel like this project helped because it was hands on instead of sitting in a classroom."

For two days, 37 students in Drake's nutrition counseling course gained hands-on experience regarding what it's like to be a dietitian in a hospital setting.

The project was a culmination of techniques discussed and skills learned in class during the semester. Students were allotted five to 10 minutes to meet with the client and were assigned either the scenario involving Anderson or a consultation with a client regarding weight management.

This is the second time Drake has partnered with the School of Nursing to offer the simulation. Prior to entering the simulation lab, students were given information regarding the two scenarios, including the clients' medical information such as weight and height, lab values, insurance coverage and more.

"We've spent the semester talking about how to motivate people and using what motivates them as a catalyst for behavior change. I was looking for the students to use the motivational-interviewing techniques we've discussed in class in a simulated environment," Drake said.

Hunter Titus, a senior from Granbury majoring in food, nutrition and dietetics, said this project helped him gauge how prepared he is to enter the workforce as a dietitian.

"It was challenging, but it was really good for me. It was something I was looking forward to," Titus said. "It's something you can't just learn in the classroom; it's something you have to do."