AURORA, Colo. — On Friday, the Center for Advancing Professional Excellence (CAPE) on the CU Anschutz campus held an immersive diversity training for 200 healthcare students.
CAPE is a state-of-the-art training facility that uses human patient simulators and actors to help physicians-in-training go through high-pressure situations, emulating actual hospitals. The cases include portrayals of patients who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), LGBTQIA+, and have limited English proficiency (LEP).
“I have participated in this training as a student, and that consisted of me showing up and getting to collaborate with other students from other programs,” Carla Cruz, physician assistant student at the University of Anschutz campus said. “I got to really be the provider or the student provider in these cases with a lot of different BIPOC communities or gender dysphoria patients, and really get to see a training of what to do and how to build trust with these communities.”
Cruz said during her training, she went through four simulations.
“In one, we got to see a patient who had and was kind of displaying some microaggressions,” Cruz said. “Throughout the visit, we had a BIPOC nurse come in and provide care. And this was all portrayed as part of the simulation. But the patient was saying that she didn't want care from this nurse, that she didn't think she was educated enough. And it really put us on the spot as a team to see how we would navigate both providing care to the patient, as well as advocating for our team members,” Cruz said.
Cruz said the training also helped her identify her own blind spots.
“We did have another patient with gender dysphoria and I had realized that when I came in, I didn't even ask for their pronouns, or I didn't state my own pronouns. So that was a huge switch for me. And it's something that I don't think I would have realized, had it been had it not been for this in-person diversity and equity training,” Cruz said. “My parents don't speak English, my grandparents don't speak English. And I've had so many times when my mom comes home from a visit, and she calls me and she's ‘Hey, I just, you know, saw this doctor and I have no idea what they told me, I don't know what medications I have to take, I don't know what I take them for’. So I think it can really lead to a lot of disparities and understanding your care, and empowering the patient in their care.”
Community member Ama Owusu observed the training and provided feedback.
“I think it is a step in the right direction. I think that a lot of thought has gone into it. And you can see, based off of how things have been going, the time that's been taken to develop this curriculum around this and the prep that they have for the students and the residents, prior to the simulations. Everything has been meticulously thought out,” Owusu said. “I've experienced discrimination as far as how family had been treated in the health care system. I've also experienced it firsthand.”
Owusu said the training could help make sure other patients don’t face discrimination.
A big part of the training includes invasive procedure scenarios with human patient simulators. But standardized patients who act out different medical situations also participate and provide students with direct feedback.
“Typically, what we can do in our feedback sessions is what we call a ‘rewind’. And so I can say, ‘I perceive that you were a little bit biased in the way that you addressed me. How about, we go back to that moment, and try it again, and give you an opportunity to do that again, in a different way?’” standardized patient Pete Peters said. “We focus on the communication aspects of the interaction. We put a lot of value in someone asking open-ended questions. Because if you asked me open-ended questions, I can give you my story. If you'd do reflective listening, and repeat back what I've said, I know you're listening to me. If you give me chunks of information in small chunks, and then check in to see if I understand, I know that you're working with me and you care about what it is that you're saying to me and you care about whether or not I understand it.”
Peters said it’s important to help medical professionals work through tough situations and confront their own biases so that they can ultimately save more lives.