Due to COVID-19, in-person breastfeeding support is no longer available. Parents struggling with breastfeeding and breast health issues are encouraged to engage in telehealth to help prevent unnecessary ER and clinic visits during the pandemic. Lactation consultants, physicians, students, and healthcare professionals must quickly adapt to working in telemedicine. However, there is a critical gap in the market for teaching physicians and nurses how to counsel breastfeeding parents via phone and video. Thankfully, there has been a surge of lactation related telehealth resources made available since March 2020:

On-Demand Telesimulation™ offers telesimulation education for aspiring lactation consultants, medical and nursing students, Baby-Friendly Hospital staff, WIC peer counselors, and anyone who works with breastfeeding parents during COVID-19. Learners enrolled in our platform will use asynchronous self-directed learning and on-demand standardized patient (SP) encounters to gain skills in experience in addressing breastfeeding issues through telehealth.

We chose to implement SPs instead of virtual patients for a number of reasons:

  1. SPs provide a realistic simulated experience for nursing and medical students that don’t have access to clinical placements
  2. Our use of SPs has helped unemployed actors across the country do remote work during COVID-19
  3. We have trained our SPs to provide tailored feedback to each learner immediately following their SP session

Telesimulation training with standardized patients vs. virtual patients

Standardized Patients Virtual Patients
  • Highly trained actors that imitate the symptoms and characteristics of a real patient for clinical training purposes
  • Limited to the capabilities of their code in terms of graphics, narration, and overall quality
  • Provide custom feedback for each learner based on their experience in the SP session
  • Cannot express emotions or tailored feedback to learners like a real human being
  • Allow learners to participate in realistic simulated physical exams
  • Present more barriers for learners to engage in accurate physical exams