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Investigation: Skills labs could make up placement shortfall

Nursing students could spend more time in simulated healthcare settings and “skills labs” in the future, as universities look for new ways to provide hands-on learning.

Professor Ieuan Ellis, chair of the Council of Deans of Health, said shifting the balance towards more simulated learning was one option to tackle placement shortages.

Professor Ieuan Ellis

Professor Ieuan Ellis

“If you have got challenges on the quality of some placements, and yet can demonstrate the outcomes of learning in a simulated environment are very good, then it makes sense to keep re-visiting the appropriate balance between simulated learning in clinical skills laboratories and learning in placement settings,” he said.

Angela Parry, director of clinical education at the Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery at King’s College London, said simulator facilities could be a hugely valuable training tool.

Angela Parry

Angela Parry

All King’s nursing students spend time at a simulation and learning centre, which includes a mocked-up ward with six beds and a new community care scenario where students enter a patient’s “home”.

“The most important thing is that students are safe and patients are kept safe, so any opportunity for skills rehearsal in an environment where you can get direct feedback can only be a good thing,” Ms Parry told Nursing Times.

“The evidence suggests it increases students’ competence and confidence and what we have found is that when student who have done our community simulation actually go out into the community they have a much better learning outcome,” she added.

 

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Readers' comments (9)

  • michael stone

    A good idea, if the fact that real patients will talk back and interact in a way that 'dummies' don't, is also accounted for.

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  • no-- how can you teach individualised care in a lab-- i remember when being taught venepunture-- i was excellent in the lab, he didnt move, wasnt scared of needles, had viens where they should be--next step taking blood within a dementia assessment unit--not quite the same then onto a clozeril clinic--i found veins in the most bizarre places- worked with people with needle phobias, non engagement.
    learning skills needs to be done on real people--

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  • Clearly skills labs have their place - but they shouldn't be considered an alternative to clinical placements - the value of clinical placements to learning must have been demonstrated otherwise why would the NMC have increased it to 50% of the course time. A Heath Robinson approach whilst tempting doesn't sort out the longterm problem.

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  • tinkerbell

    if the skills lab is looking for extra dummies I know where some can be found.

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  • Comment removed

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  • Removed due to inappropriate language. Please refer to this site's terms and conditions before posting further:
    http://www.nursingtimes.net/terms-and-conditions/

  • never seen nurses carrying out the procedure shown in the photo above on a live patient!

    :-)

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  • michael stone

    Interesting - you all seem to be agreeing very strongly with my 'but dummies don't talk back and interact like real people' point, even more strongly than I had expected.

    I had originally been tempted to write something like 'using 'dummies' makes more sense in the training of surgeons than it does for nursing' and it looks as people would agree with me.

    But remember that this seems partly to stem, from not being able to find enough 'good placements' for student nurses - so I suppose the idea is to learn the theoretical bits using dummies/etc, so that more of the placement time is available for learning the 'real-world interactive' skills ?

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  • I found the plastic arm with tubing and red and blue dye in it very useful for my introduction to venepuncture - better to practice there first time than on a real live one!

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  • Johnathan Crane

    I definately agree that skills labs are an excellent way of getting comfortable with clinical skills. Personally, I was already comfortable with some clinical skills, and found those sessions a bit of a drag - things like bedbaths and rectal drug administration - but for my colleagues with no care experience they were brilliant, we're all saying how good the labs are and even for experienced students there is always something new. I'm looking forward to/dreading IM practice sessions, and I'm so glad I get to do it on a mannequin the first time, not some poor patient!
    Even if you have tonnes of clinical experience in basic skills, then you will still learn something essential in a skills lab. It may just be how to take the o2 tap out of the wall, but you'll still be so grateful when you go onto a ward and can do it with confidence.
    I'm 100% in favour of labs sessions, but I know that like most things it comes down to money. At my Institution we are blessed to have many well-equipped labs - my colleagues down the road still have to practice depots on oranges. The difference isn't the quality of the institution, it's funding, and I hope to see a lot more money put into labs as soon as possible. Speaking personally (and maybe a touch politically) I find it shameful that the government has £8 billion to throw at sports for the Rio Olympiad, and when they look in the purse for the NHS or education, it's mysteriously empty. Priorities, please!

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