Screening patients admitted with stroke symptoms for risk of aspiration is often the responsibility of registered nurses (RNs). Simulation technology has become a widely used evidence-based form of training for healthcare professionals. The purpose of this study was to determine if the use of medical simulation mannequins as a training component is feasible when training and evaluating nurses administering swallowing screenings to stroke patients. A total of 32 RNs were divided into one of two training groups: didactic training only or didactic training plus simulation. Acquisition of skills was assessed immediately post-training and compared between the groups revealing significant differences between simulation group and didactic-only group for interpretation (p = 0.01) and administration (p = 0.05) accuracies. Following training to 100 % accuracy for post-training baseline competency, maintenance of skills across participants was assessed three more times over 6 weeks with the third follow-up screening completed with a standardized patient (live patient actor). While interpretation performance at each subsequent trial never equaled the baseline 100 % post-training accuracy (p = 0.001), steady improvement in performance was observed with each follow-up assessment. For screening administration, no significant differences in skills were evident between post-training baseline competency and the 6-week follow-up (p = 0.269) further confirming improvement in skills over time. Extension of screening administration and interpretation skills to the standardized patient was evident. Findings indicate that simulation training using medical mannequins can be used to train and evaluate nurses for obtainment and maintenance of swallowing screening competency.
Keywords: Competency; Deglutition; Deglutition disorders; Medical mannequin; Nursing; Swallowing screening.