Writtle University College and ARU have merged. Writtle’s full range of college, degree, postgraduate and short courses will still be delivered on the Writtle campus. See our guide to finding Writtle information on this site.

Learning in the nursing skills labs

Guest posts

Faculty: Health, Medicine and Social Care
School: School of Nursing and Midwifery
Course: BSc (Hons) Child Nursing
Category: Nursing and midwifery

6 September 2022

Louise Barrett

At ARU, skills labs are an important part of training for all our student nurses. Child Nursing student Louise describes some of the skills she's learned, and equipment she's used.

A Skills Lab is a place where you can practice nursing skills and techniques in a safe environment alongside your classmates and with the help of your lecturers or tutors.

It's set up and made to resemble a real-life children’s ward – although every hospital may have slightly different equipment, the ARU Skills Lab has a variety of equipment to best prepare you for going out into practice.

When Child Nursing students go into the Skills Lab, we have uniform checks to make sure we are following the policies and rules to wear this uniform in practice (eg hair up and no nail varnish).

This means we wear a tunic, smart trousers, or a dress with tights, appropriate shoes, and our hair has to be tied back (don’t forget the black socks too!). I think this is a really good way of getting used to wearing our uniforms.

What skills do we learn?

There are so many different skills we go though in a Skills Lab. It starts from the very basics, such as bed making and observations, to cannulation and taking bloods.

Basic Life Support and Manual handling skills sessions are compulsory before you go into practice, and you also need to do these again each year both as a student and once you’ve qualified. Other skills sessions are on things such as injections, personal care, and communication.

By learning all these skills before going into placement, we are also ensuring that we are providing safe and accurate care to our patients, which is part of the Nursing and Midwifery Council code that all nurses and midwives must follow.

How do we practice?

So, how do we practice our skills? We have a range of mannequins from babies to toddlers, to older children to adults. We can attach our mannequins to machines such as a pulse oximeters, which enable our tutors to produce artificial observations, and we can learn what we should do if we were to meet children with certain conditions.

Also, your classmates make the perfect patients – I remember well practicing manual blood pressure on my friends in class!

Let’s talk equipment

We also have a range of specialised equipment very similar to those we will be using out in practice, for example NG tubes, which are tubes that go from the nose down to the stomach and are often used to feed patients who can not take food orally.

The other kinds of equipment we have enable us to learn skills such as handwashing and hygiene with our sinks, alcohol gel, wipes, and personal protective equipment (PPE), which I am sure everyone is much more aware of now due to COVID-19. We also have clinical waste bins and sharps bins to practise disposing clinical waste properly.

Another important way child nursing students use the skills labs are for exams (OSCEs), where we are given scenarios and we are asked to respond to the child’s needs. As scary as this sounds, you have lots of practice and it is a really good way to learn how to think independently. It also means you get used to lots of different equipment, and that you can work alongside your classmates to practice different scenarios.

I really enjoy our lessons in the Skills Lab and, thanks to this, I have learned lots of skills which have been vital for my placement.

By Louise Barrett
BSc (Hons) Child Nursing student

To find out more about Child Nursing or other nursing degrees and student life at ARU, book your place at an Open Day.


The views expressed here are those of the individual and do not necessarily represent the views of Anglia Ruskin University. If you've got any concerns please contact us.