Training social work students to recognize later-life depression: Is standardized patient simulation effective?

In Gerontology & Geriatrics Education, Zvi Gellis and Eunhae Grace Kim assess the affect of an educational intervention on social work students' understanding of later-life depression. The authors note that, although social workers are the largest provider of mental health services in the nation, they receive little coursework or clinical training in late-life depression unless they are in a gerontology specialization. The authors developed and completed a Standardized Patient Simulation course with 104 students, and assessed whether the simulation improved student knowledge and skill competency. This course included a human simulator interview, pre- and post-brief sessions on late life depression, and student and faculty ratings of outcome measures. They find that the course greatly improved student knowledge and clinical skill competencies compared to traditional education. Students reported that the patient simulator was convincing, the environment was realistic, and they were satisfied with the training.