Centre for Health Professions Education
Simulation and Clinical Skills Unit
This state of the art facility provides opportunities for both undergraduate and postgraduate students to acquire clinical skills in simulation. Simulation and Clinical Skills Unit are no longer regarded as a luxury; these centres have become essential to all health professions programmes. Reasons contributing to this necessity have been the ad hoc nature of clinical learning opportunities, the increased awareness of patient safety as well as the increased student numbers. It is important to remember that the simulated environment cannot replace the real clinical environment; the simulation merely aims to prepare the students optimally for their clinical learning opportunities.
Teaching and learning activities
The SCSU strives to promote an environment and culture where all the students at the FMHS can learn together in a dynamic teaching space and therefore all the programs are encouraged to make use of the wide variety of simulation equipment. The centre's staffing-model is developed in such a way that it allows lecturers from various departments to teach their students by making use of the venues and equipment, but most of the teaching is done by the personnel of the SCSU.
Core teaching done by the SCSU personnel is for the MB,ChB students, with staff assisting with teaching in allied health sciences programmes, e.g. Physiotherapy, Nursing, Dietetics and Dentistry. The medical students come to the SCSU for various clinical skills teaching sessions from the end of their first year right until the last module of their sixth year.
Practical assessments in the format of Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCEs) for the MB,ChB domains, as well as for other programmes, occur throughout the year. The SCSU personnel assist the various environments with the preparation and planning of these very labour intensive assessment events. Students are encouraged to use the SCSU facility to practise in their own time, with SCSU staff available to assist them. Peer learning is encouraged and therefore peer assessment documents have been designed and are available for student use to critique one another when practising clinical skills in the SCSU.
In addition to formal teaching of skills in university accredited programmes, the SCSU presents CPD activities in the form of short courses for non-university affiliated persons when the academic programme allows for open venues and available lecturers. These courses mainly focus on CPR and emergency related topics since these are vital skills which can only be practised in simulation. These courses assist the SCSU to maintain a third stream of income as well as it allows the SCSU personnel to foster collegiate relationships with other educational institutions and hospital groups.
The SCSU endeavours to participate in a number of educational research projects. A study about the Use of different teaching methods and how it influences retention of clinical skills was done recently in collaboration with Emergency Medicine. First year medical students were taught how to use the manual defibrillator and the study took place over two consecutive years to ensure adequate data collection. A scientific article describing this work was published in 2015.
MB,ChB students wanting to conduct educational research are always encouraged and we are currently supervising two undergraduate students who are doing projects related to clinical skills.
According to a research project that was conducted among medical students in 2013 regarding their teaching experiences in the SCSU, the students felt that the sessions improved their confidence and empowered them to perform the procedures taught in the clinical environment. They reported that they "could see what is right and how you are supposed to work". This statement reflects the ethos of the Simuation and Clinical Skills Unit:
We teach the students using the Best Evidence Medicine approach; we warmly welcome all students and continually reflect and improve on our teaching practices.