Centre for Health Professions Education
Simulation and Clinical Skills Unit
Clinical skills refers to those applied professional skills that are necessary in encounters with patients. These skills cover a wide variety of topics, ranging from correctly taking a medical history, performing an abdominal examination, interpreting a urine sample, conducting a counselling session and suturing a wound. These skills are acquired by means of training and depending on the teaching goal, different training formats can be chosen.
The SCSU is a facility which offers a safe environment for both undergraduate and postgraduate students to learn, practise and acquire clinical skills in simulation without fear of compromising a patient or themselves. Clinical learning opportunities, increased awareness of patient safety and increasing student numbers are all constantly contributing to the unit becoming an essential part of the foundation to all health professions programmes. The simulated environment does not replace the actual clinical environment but it does prepare students optimally for their clinical learning opportunities.
The SCSU strives to promote an environment and culture where all the students at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences can learn together in a dynamic teaching space. All programs are encouraged to make use of the wide variety of simulation equipment.
Medical students come to the SCSU for various clinical skills teaching sessions from the end of their first year up until the last module of their sixth year. Core teaching done by the SCSU personnel is for the MB,ChB students but they also assist with teaching in allied health sciences programmes, e.g. Physiotherapy, Nursing, Dietetics and Dentistry.
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.
The SCSU facilitates various projects and teaching opportunities including basic life support orientation to faculty staff members, teaching clinical skills to the Nelson Mandela, Fidel Castro trained medical students during their orientation programme, teaching CPR and suturing skills to the University of the Western Cape Dentistry students and offering an advanced life support short course to the Western Cape College of Nursing Critical Care and Trauma nursing students.
Assessment forms an integral part of skills development and the SCSU is increasingly being used for large OSCEs.
The SCSU endeavours to participate in a number of educational research projects with the aim on improving teaching, learning and assessment practices.
Research regarding medical students' teaching experiences in the SCSU showed that students felt 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 Simulation and Clinical Skills Unit. We teach students using best evidence based practice and we encourage them to continually reflect and find ways to improve our teaching practices.