Future-proofing simulation and clinical skills
Midwifery pre-registration education must adopt a range of learning and teaching approaches, including simulation and clinical skills sessions, to ensure that student midwives have the required skills and competencies to be admitted to the register. Simulation and clinical skills sessions, undertaken in the ‘safe’ environment of the classroom, enhance students' understanding, confidence and skills—particularly in managing obstetric emergencies, where in practice the needs of the woman take precedence over students' learning opportunities. The unpredictability of the clinical environment may lead to students not having the opportunity to manage an obstetric emergency until after they qualify. Setting up and facilitating simulation and clinical skills sessions is time-consuming for midwifery lecturers and not best use of their expertise, which is why specialist support in the form of laboratory/clinical skills technicians is critical to the smooth running of sessions and maintenance of costly equipment.
Simulation and clinical skills sessions support student midwives in developing their clinical and communication abilities, and link theory to practice in a safe environment (Lendahls and Oscarsson, 2017; Yuill, 2017). Evidence suggests that simulation workshops can increase students' understanding, confidence and clinical abilities, which are then consolidated in practice (Catling et al, 2016). This is particularly important for managing emergency situations, which are unpredictable in nature and, in any event, the wellbeing of the woman and baby must take precedence over students' learning opportunities. This can result in some students not having the opportunity to manage an obstetric emergency until post-qualification (Yuill, 2017).
There is a strong rationale for embedding simulation and clinical skills sessions into the pre-registration midwifery programme, as they are key components in preparing student midwives for the demands of the unpredictable clinical environment. That said, providing these learning opportunities in a university setting requires approved educational institutions to have the appropriate equipment and manpower to maintain and set up the equipment. The Midwives In Teaching (MINT) Project (Fraser and Avis, 2010) highlighted that the demands on midwifery lecturers' time to ensure that all students have the chance to observe, practice and be assessed on clinical skills in a safe environment are high. The introduction of specialist support in the form of Laboratory/Clinical Skills Technicians not only makes best use of equipment and time, it also empowers lecturers to focus on facilitating learning.
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