The vocational nursing school offers a 3-year nursing program and integrated skills- and full scale simulation training with their curriclum in 2009. 18 months later the new learning methods are highly valued both by students and faculty.
Faculty members started out by visiting London City University and Careum University College in Zurich, Switzerland to learn more about how simulation training is facilitated there and to obtain ideas and advice on how to implement the same training back home. The preparations started in 2008, and a year later, simulation training was a fully integral part of the curriculum in Kempten.
Benefits of clinical skills labs
''While in clinical practice, students risk not being exposed to some of the skill sets they are required to learn. With the skills labs however, we can ascertain that all the skills listed in the curriculum are in fact acquired'' says Angelika Kirsten, vicarious headmistress and one of two nurse teachers heading up the simulation project.
Mrs Kirsten further explains that the labs provide better hands-on opportunities, that new skills are demonstrated in the same, correct manner, that there is an opportunity to practice till perfection and that students are now taking more responsibility for their own learning.
Taking clinical skills to the next level
Once the various skill sets are in place, the students must learn to apply them in the delivery of patient care. Learning how to identify patients’ needs and to act accordingly is however a far more complicated process than mastering technical skills sets. It takes time, effort and a lot of practice to master patient care, communication skills (with the patient and other team members), and to process new information, all at the same time.
Interactive simulation training bridges the learning gap
The nurse teachers at Kempten recognized that interacting with patient simulators helps the students 'see the whole picture' – a prerequisite, really, to assess and fully understand a patient's needs, take the necessary precautions and measures and, ultimately, provide safe patient care. This is why full scale simulation scenarios was perceived as a crucial next step in enhancing the students' training and competence.
Reflections after 18 months
Mrs Kirsten and dipl. nurse educator Martina Ostheimer Koch experience many advantages with simulation training. Here are some of them:
''Simulation training is considered a highly motivating factor for faculty.''
''Because the students are now trained to explain the background for the measures they take, they have more knowledge about what they are doing. This makes it easier to transfer acquired skills and competencies to clinical practice.''
''We are seeing a new generation of students now. They have started asking more questions about what they do and are increasingly applying critical thinking while in clinical practice.''
Sharing their own experiences with other nursing schools
As the benefits with simulation are very encouraging, faculty members take every opportunity to promote their strategy to colleagues at other nursing schools. Ms Kirsten says that ''by showing how simulation has been integrated with our curriculum and what we have accomplished so far, we are hoping that more schools will embark on a similar project.''
The 135 sq meters training facilities comprise:
- 1 room for interactive, full scale simulation training
- 2 clinical skills labs
- 1 'apartment' for eldercare