The skills labs at ARU have been so helpful in giving us students the opportunity to practice essential skills before having to practice in placement.
Practising in the skills labs does not mean you become an expert, but it does give you hands on experience. I have found several situations a little less scary due to the hands-on experience I have had in the skills lab. Although most of our time is spent on placement, our UNI days are still essential, and I especially enjoyed the skills sessions. It’s a great way to practise practical skills without any pressure!
One of the first things we did in the skills lab was learning moving and handling techniques and basic life support. These are skills that we must complete every year before starting placement. Having the mannequins and equipment in the skills lab really helped in linking theory to practise. I found it especially helpful with basic life support, as we all get the opportunity to practise chest compressions. I luckily haven’t had to do chest compressions in placement yet but, having had this hands-on training, I feel confident with the skills I have acquired thus far.
When we learnt to scrub for surgery, it was really fun and exciting without the pressure of knowing a patient would be arriving to theatre soon. We were put into small groups (I was in a group of three), we were then shown a short presentation on hand washing and the gloving and gowning technique. We all then had the opportunity to practise. We used sinks identical to those in practice to wash our hands and then got to practise putting on our gowns and gloves. It felt so cool to be scrubbed for surgery!
The tutors took pictures of us all once we were scrubbed.
I was so appreciative to have had this experience before the first time I had to scrub in placement. Of course, I was nervous, but I kept thinking about what I had learnt on that day and followed my mentor’s guidance at the time before I was scrubbed and ready for my first surgery.
In our second trimester we were based in anaesthetics, and we were learning about the anaesthetic machine. When I first saw an anaesthetic machine, I remember thinking I would never get to grips with it. The skills lab was essential in learning everything we need to in terms of the machine! During this trimester, we were in the skills lab every second week and had the opportunity to practise the safety checks as many times as we liked. In my trust, we have lots of different anaesthetic machines and it made it very confusing for me at first. However, getting the opportunity to practise so frequently and understand this one machine (pictured below) in such detail worked wonders! I now feel completely confident in checking all the machines in my trust by myself. There was even a time recently where my trust got the same machine that we use in the skills lab, and I helped some of my own mentors to get to grips with it!
There have been many other occasions in which the skills lab has helped me in practising practical skills before having to practise them during my placement. Additionally, on multiple occasions I have seen or heard things in placement and even after asking questions, I have struggled to understand them. However, once I can get hands on in the skills lab, everything comes together and starts to make sense. The skills lab sessions have been undeniably beneficial to my learning, and I feel very lucky to have access to such an engaging environment!
Sophie studies Operating Department Practice (ODP) at ARU. Find out more about the role of the ODP at one of our Operating Department Practice taster days.