Life Science

UWF Departments Provide Awareness Education for Local Registered Nurses

Pensacola — The University of West Florida’s Center for Applied Psychology and the School of Nursing presented a workshop called “Situation Awareness Workshop for Nurses” July 11 in the Nursing Skills & Simulation Learning Center at UWF.

Situation awareness is the ability to identify, process, and comprehend the critical elements of information about what is happening around you, said Dr. Jill Van Der Like, clinical assistant professor of nursing and director of the simulation center.

Six registered nurses, all of whom are part of Baptist Hospital nursing residents program that is for nurses with less than one year’s experience on the job, attended the seminar.

“The idea is to use high-fidelity mannequins and mindfulness training to improve clinical judgment,” said Courtney Dreadin, nurse residency coordinator and clinical educator at Baptist Hospital.

The Center for Applied Psychology is a consulting group within the Department of Psychology at UWF. Its aim is the optimization of human performance in educational, health and workplace contexts, said Valerie Morganson, director of the center.

Dr. Steven Kass and Dr. Stephen Vodanovich, professors in the UWF psychology department who also work in the Center for Applied Psychology, have been developing scenarios since spring for the situation awareness simulations in preparation for the learning activities that took place in the all-day workshop.

Kass is the project’s principal investigator.

They also have been conducting practice runs of the scenarios with the feedback of members of the UWF nursing department faculty.

“We are trying to help the medical community reduce the number of errors that occur,” Kass said. “We can do this by increasing situation awareness.”

Situation awareness is a fast-growing area of research, Morganson said.

“In nursing, situation awareness is about a lot of factors including learning to link clues to each other,” said Jessica Place, a registered nurse who participated in the workshop.

The description of the workshop stated it was designed to enhance situation awareness in new nurses and examine whether such training programs would improve nurses’ ability to identify relevant cues (vital signs, symptoms, chart information and patient responses).

The agenda consisted of lectures, interactive video vignettes, mindfulness meditation practices and simulation exercises. All were designed to help nurses understand what this information can indicate about a patient’s condition.

Gleaning and understanding such information enhances nurses’ ability to project future outcomes based on the patient’s current status.

The workshop included interactive activities designed to help nurses identify and develop strategies to overcome barriers to situation awareness, which can include cognitive bias, distractions and work overload.

“Learning about situation awareness is beneficial because it makes you aware of many things including how to avoid distractions and biases, how to prioritize and how to delegate,” said Christine Van Leeuwen, a registered nurse. “It also helps you learn to look at the big picture: environment, patient vital signs, information from the family.”