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IO Psychology research focuses on leadership, urgency skills

The Industrial/Organizational Psychology program is working with Central Michigan University’s College of Medicine to research developing methods to train medical students teamwork and leadership skills in urgent situations.

Texas graduate student Bailey Schrock said nurses, physicians and physician assistants are working together to save lives and sometimes fatal errors might occur due to a lack of training on teamwork and communication. This program is designed to help prevent these errors.

The research will test skills such as communication and leadership. This is done by administrating a situational judgment test created by the researchers.

The test consists of scenarios that require critical skills needed for a job. Participants are required to rank multiple choice responses from most to least effective in handling situations.

“We may describe a scenario where a co-worker has started arguing with you about who should perform certain tasks,” said Matt Prewett, the head of the research. “How should (a worker) respond to the situation?”

The last two pages of the test consist of a self-report needed for comparison to the actual test results. Participants then view a lecture before completing the next step — the simulations.

"One thing we are doing to prove that the situational judgment test is accurate in testing one’s soft skills is evaluating students work through simulations," Prewitt said. "If our test is correlating with soft skills, it should relate to students’ effectiveness in these scenarios.”

There are two simulations involved in the situational judgment test. The simulations are recorded and judged by expert raters.

The first simulation consists of a medical student who is assuming the role of a nurse. The student must correct the doctor when they ask for the wrong dosage of medicine. This test relies heavily on effective communication skills.

The second simulation involves a medical student who walks in to see a collapsed mannequin with two frightened bystanders surrounding it. The job of the medical student is to demonstrate leadership and mutual support while the bystanders assist in CPR and call 911.

Both tests are measured on qualities of environmental awareness, communication, team structure, mutual support and leadership.

The situational judgment test is then administered after training to see if medical students improved on their soft skills.

Prewett hopes the data will show the situational judgment test is valid and works well. The test would fill the hole in which there are no cost-effective assessments for evaluating soft skills in the work place.

“This research has the potential to save lives if the skills learned in these scenarios are successful,” said Gainesville, Florida, graduate student Rusty Gillain.