Obstetrics & Gynaecology Publications

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Advances in Simulation





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BACKGROUND: Simulation research that seeks to solve the problem of silence among interprofessional teams has focused almost exclusively on training subordinate team members to be more courageous and to speak up to team leaders using direct challenge scripts despite the great interpersonal cost. Consequently, the existing literature overemphasizes the responsibility of subordinate team members for speaking up and fails to consider the role and responsibilities of team leaders in sustaining silence. The purpose of this study is to identify and describe the subtle behaviors and actions of team leaders that both promote and discourage speaking up.

METHODS: This study used a simulation-primed qualitative inquiry approach. Obstetricians (OB) at one academic center participated in an interprofessional simulation as an embedded participant. Five challenge moments (CM) were scripted for the OB involving deliberate clinical judgment errors or professionalism infractions. Other participants were unaware of the OB embedded participant role. Thirteen iterations were completed with 39 participants. Twelve faculty members completed a subsequent semi-structured interview. Scenarios were videotaped; debriefs and interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Data were analyzed using an inductive thematic approach.

RESULTS: After participating in an interprofessional simulation, faculty participants reflected that being an approachable team leader requires more than simply avoiding disruptive behaviors. We found that approachability necessitates that team leaders actively create the conditions in which team members perceive that speaking up is welcomed, rather than an act of bravery. In practice, this conceptualization of approachability involves the tangible actions of signaling availability through presence, uncertainty through thinking aloud, and vulnerability through debriefing.

CONCLUSIONS: By using faculty as embedded participants with scripted errors, our simulation design provided an ideal learning opportunity to prompt discussion of the subtle behaviors and actions of team leaders that both promote and discourage speaking up. Faculty participants gained a new appreciation that their actions create the conditions for speaking up to occur before critical incidents through their verbal and non-verbal communication.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.