Researchers at the University of Newcastle are looking at ways to better equip nursing graduates to work in complex health systems.
Supported by a $200,000 grant from the Australian Learning and Teaching Council, researchers will examine how human patient simulation manikins (HPS) and information and communication technology (ICT) can enhance nursing students' clinical reasoning skills.
Technologically advanced HPS manikins have palpable pulses, heart, breath and bowel sounds, an IV arm, and they can be intubated and programmed to speak, grimace or moan. A computer allows for individualised programming of 'real world' patient conditions.
"HPS is an educational approach that allows participative, and at times interactive, learning by recreating a clinical experience without exposing patients to the associated risks," lead researcher, Dr Tracy Levett-Jones said.
"Ideally, opportunities for the development and application of students' clinical reasoning and relevant ICT skills should be provided in 'real' healthcare contexts during clinical placements. However, the challenging and diverse nature of nursing means this is not always possible.
"Nursing graduates need both clinical reasoning skills and sophisticated ICT skills to deal with complex patient needs in the workplace.
"While nursing students currently spend many hours with 'real' patients in hospitals and other health services as part of their studies, this research will explore the use of HPS manikins in providing additional opportunities.
"Focusing on HPS and ICT will improve graduates' work-readiness, and could in turn improve patient outcomes."
Ultimately the team will develop a range of interactive online teaching resources to support students and academics in the effective use of HPS and ICT in clinical laboratories.
Head of the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Professor Mike Hazelton, said the project was at the cutting-edge of education for nurses and other health professionals.
"The grant awarded by the Australian Learning and Teaching Council is testament to the quality education provided to nursing and midwifery students at the University of Newcastle. It is also evidence of the qualifications of our researchers to provide a review of such vital educational approaches for nurses," Professor Hazelton said.
Dr Levett-Jones is working in collaboration with researchers from the University's Newcastle, Central Coast and Port Macquarie campuses, as well as the University of Western Sydney.