HomeGrown Solution: Working Telephone System


Working Telephone System

Submitted By

Valorie MacKenna

HomeGrown Solution Number


Identification of the Problem

Previously, simulations were run with a non-working phone on a table and the facilitator sitting a few feet away. When a student would "make a call" to a provider to get orders or give SBAR reports, the call turned into a face-to-face conversation with all members of the group chiming in and hearing what was being said from the provider along with the student making the call. This all contributed to a break with fidelity and realism during the scenarios, and prevented good practice with concepts like thinking critically through a telephone call, SBAR and readback. No commercial products were available at the time, and there were no phone jacks in the simulation area, so a different solution was needed to improve this problem.

Unique Idea

 search for instructions on how to connect two phones together was conducted. The end result of following the steps to add battery power to the phone line led to a two-way working telephone system. Building a working telephone system allows the facilitator to remove him/herself from the room (or relocate to a control booth) and be able to hear the student making a phone call as if they are on a real telephone line. Only the student making the call can hear was is being said on the other end of the phone, so the remaining members of the group must wait to get the information from the calling student. The caller needs to bring all pertinent information to the phone when making the call. By using the working telephone system, the student is more inclined to perform a real SBAR report and conduct a readback of the orders received. This all adds to the realism of the scenario.


  1. Corded or Cordless phones - (2) per system
  2. Phone cords - (2)
  3. Soldering iron and flux wire
  4. phone line coupler
  5. electrical tape
  6. 9V battery
  7. 9V battery snap connector
  8. 330 ohm resistor
  9. wire stripper
  10. dremmel or drill and small bit (1/16" or 1/8")

Steps to Creating the Solution

  1. Open phone line coupler and pull out the red wire.
  2. Cut the red wire and remove the insulation with a wire stripper.
  3. Solder one end of the resistor to one of the red wire ends.
  4. Solder the snap connector's black wire to the other side of the resistor, and the red wire to the other end of the coupler's red wire (see photo).
  5. Create a hole to give room for the wires on the snap connector.
  6. Close the telephone line coupler.
  7. Connect the 9 volt battery to the snap connector.
  8. Using the two phone cords, connect 2 telephones to the adapted coupler & 9V battery.
  9. Pick up (or turn on) both phones - each person can hear one another as if really on a telephone call.
  10. If using a cordless phone, allow that to be used by the facilitator, so there can be distance away from the scenario environment.