The National Health Service endured significant strains during the COVID-19 pandemic to the point where all face-to-face training had to be paused. Our team delivers simulation-based training face to face and offers support for those returning to work, stepping up to senior roles and addressing important aspects of general paediatric care such as acute mental health crises and end of life care.
The aim of the study was to deliver our courses virtually without compromising the quality of content.
Initially, we reviewed all scenarios to appraise whether they could be delivered online. Scenarios that involved acute clinical decisions were recorded with the faculty acting as the candidates. This also allowed scripting to ensure that key discussion points could be raised within the debrief. Scenarios mainly involving communication skills with standardized patient role player were retained, and briefs were adapted so that the candidates were aware that the scenarios began when the actor appeared on screen.
Participants were recruited using newsletters and subsequently directed to a website to collate email addresses where invites to the virtual meeting space and pre-course material were sent. The scenarios were combined with contracting rules and links to interactive polls to form a presentation that could be shared on the screen throughout the day. Links to post-course feedback surveys were also included to evaluate participant satisfaction of the course design. From October 2020 to May 2021, we delivered eight virtual teaching sessions to a total of 67 multi-professional candidates ranging from nursing staff, police officers and doctors. Candidates were asked whether the course addressed their learning objectives or whether the course had increased their knowledge and 53 (79%) candidates ‘strongly agreed’ with these statements. Including those who ‘agreed’ with these statements, 66 out of 67 (98%) of the candidates perceived this course addressed their learning outcomes or improved their knowledge. The results from the evaluation of these courses indicate that the adaptation of our face-to-face courses have not impaired the quality of the content and have been beneficial to the targeted audience. Despite the challenges that online teaching can pose, we have overcome these by ensuring that we contract behaviour to ensure psychological safety, included interactive aspects such as live word clouds and polls and used a modality of learning such as the use of role players and modified scenarios to guide debriefs and learning.