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Published: 05 July 2017

Surrey nursing students hone skills during annual simulation event

University of Surrey undergraduate nursing students put their clinical skills to the test during Surrey’s annual nursing simulation event.

At the University of Surrey, our health sciences students benefit from access to first-class facilities including our pioneering Simulation Suite – a facility set up to recreate realistic scenarios in a replicated hospital environment.

Utilising the unique learning opportunities offered by the Simulation Suite, we run an annual large-scale simulation event for final year nursing students to allow them to experience real-life situations and practise vital clinical skills in a safe learning environment.

As one of the only UK universities to offer an annual simulation event of this kind, Surrey is leading the way in providing first-class healthcare training.

During this year’s event, which took place on 15-16 May, nursing students were divided into three different wards, each with a focus on adult, child and mental health, according to their programmes of study. They were asked to deal with brand new situations in a genuine hospital setting, giving them the opportunity to work with ‘patients’ on a challenging A&E hospital ward with no planning, a tight turnaround, a shift change and a handover.

Along with mannequins, staff and student volunteers participated by acting out the roles of patients to allow nursing students to enhance their communication skills, as well as clinical skills. This also enabled students to experience the event from the patient’s perspective.

Read on to discover different experiences from the day, from a nurse’s, a patient’s and an observing teacher’s perspective.

The A&E nurse’s perspective

“Being a final year nursing student poses many challenges, with probably the most major one questioning if you are ready to qualify in a matter of weeks. However, participating in this simulation day reinforced all the knowledge I had learnt over the past three years.

I was asked to facilitate the role of an A&E liaison nurse and was suddenly overwhelmed with anxiety and doubts about my knowledge of the role. However, I was willing to face the challenge and was proud of the result.

"One thing I have taken away from this day is how important multidisciplinary working is in patient outcomes.

The simulation day provided an opportunity to experience a more real-life experience within a safe environment and show yourself how much you really have learnt by the end of the degree.”

Nichola Lawrence-Ball

BSc Nursing Studies (Registered Nurse - Mental Health Nursing)

The patient’s perspective

“I asked to participate in the simulation day as a patient, as I was keen to experience what it would be like to be one.

Acting within the environment made the simulation more of a real-life experience, and I got into the role really well. I found that having a member of the health science team acting with me as a member of the family really helped us to bounce off each other and develop our scenario.

I was surprised at how well the students got into character and it really did feel like a real ward at times.

It was an eye opening experience, and with the role I was given – being paralysed and in a neck brace – I felt uncomfortable in a real-life way, and I now understand the emotions patients may feel.”

Zoe Kitchener

BSc Nursing Studies (Registered Nurse - Adult Nursing) 

The observing teacher’s perspective

“At this simulation event I witnessed a real-life hospital environment – two hospital wards and a drop in mental health centre full of patients, clients, families and clinical staff being managed by outstanding undergraduate nursing students at the University of Surrey.

It seemed very real – even the smells, sounds and the events were based on real healthcare scenarios. This immersive simulation event is beneficial to the students as it condenses many events and situations including managing a cardiac arrest, phoning a relative of a dying patient, working with the outreach team and managing beds, doctors, staff and families.

By simulating the reality, we can provide a safe environment that mimics situations that student nurses are exposed to in practice. Mistakes can be made here safely and discussed on what would have been safer or a stronger approach. This gives the students the opportunity to learn from their experiences.

In healthcare education, we have used simulation for many years by practising tasks on mannequins (robots), as well as communication skills with actors. However, these tend to be more task-based and the immersive simulation experience provides a level of complexity that is more reflective of a hard day in the NHS.

It made for an intense experience, but one where students could lead situations that they may never have been expected to lead as a student. Now in their final year almost having finished their degree they will be emerging as fully qualified registered nurses and will be taking the lead. This was their glimpse into their futures, what skills they have or now need to build upon. Exploring some of the difficult decisions that they may need to make in clinical care and how well they performed in certain situations.”

Professor Sara Faithfull

Learn more about our degrees in the field of Health Sciences, Nursing and Midwifery, including our Adult Nursing, Children's Nursing and Mental Health Nursing degrees, and explore our student profiles to discover more about life at Surrey.