Clinical simulations are practical learning experiences designed to give students exposure to a comprehensive range of clinical scenarios that may be encountered in the workplace. Simulations equip students with essential practical skills that may be called upon during Clinical Placements in healthcare workplaces.
Clinical simulation is integrated into each semester of the Bachelor of Nursing and the Bachelor of Midwifery, allowing students to become familiar with clinical environments from the beginning of their degree. Contemporary healthcare practice emphasises patient and family centred care. Not only do students learn technical and patient assessment skills, there is also significant emphasis on developing communication skills to enable students to deliver competent and professional care.
During class, students work individually and in teams to respond to hypothetical patient and consumer scenarios in real time. Manikins ranging from newborn to adult give students the opportunity to practise skills before implementing them in real life situations. With labs equipped with basic manikins through to advanced manikins that can bleed, cry and even respond to pain, students work with a wide range of scenarios. Classes can also be recorded and played back to students so that strengths and areas for improvement can be observed in facilitated debriefing sessions.
Clinical simulations cover a range of scenarios informed by authentic contemporary practice. These include: aged care, antenatal care, asthma, birthing – normal and complex, chest pain, child and newborn care, deteriorating patients, emergency events, medical-surgical, mental health, perioperative and recovery room, palliative care / end of life, trauma and critical care.
Learning opportunities are not limited to class time. The faculty recognises the importance of having flexible access to clinical labs to refine skills taught during class. To give students the confidence to become proficient healthcare professionals, the Virtual Tutor project allows students to practice clinical skills with the guidance of short films. These are specifically targeted at skills useful for students of both nursing and midwifery.
Working with students in Science
Paper patient cases come to life for Science students in the Health clinical labs. First year students gain insight into the hospital and patient context for their human physiology subject which includes engaging with and understanding the ‘patient’ perspective. Second year students extend their appreciation of clinical settings within two cases and get some insight into hospital spaces, sounds and smells.
A new virtual patient case has been created within a 5 university simulation project. Students in second year nursing meet Dianne Koorah, a 46-year old Aboriginal woman who has been diagnosed with advanced breast cancer. Throughout the case material students engage with multimedia material and learn about: therapeutic communication, Indigenous health and wellbeing, medical-surgical care, caring for older people and aspects of palliative care. The virtual case connects with lab and classroom simulation activities.
There are opportunities for final year nursing students to work with medical students doing interdisciplinary simulations. Scenarios are common patient events they are likely to experience in the first year of practice such as patient deterioration. Students gain appreciation of each other’s roles and learn important aspects of teamwork and communication.
Masters students from the Graduate School of Pharmacy undertake virtual clinical experiences as preparation for their practical time in hospital settings. Within the UTS: Health labs they discuss and decide important aspects of medication ordering, interactions, patient education and overall management. Future plans are to include nursing students in an interdisciplinary simulation with pharmacy students.