Health Sciences

Simulation learning for physiotherapy students

Simulation Learning for Physiotherapy Students

In 2013 the School of Physiotherapy was part of a successful grant application to Health Workforce Australia for the funding of a major project “Embedding Simulation in Clinical Training in Physiotherapy”. This project involved 17 physiotherapy schools (18 physiotherapy programs) across Australia, with the aim to embed long-term sustainable simulation units into their clinical programs. This project aimed to evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of simulation for clinical training as well as evaluating the overall effect of simulation training on students’ performance during traditional clinical placements.

New simulation learning facilities were developed at both ACU North Sydney and Brisbane campuses. These new facilities offer state of the art purpose built 8 bed wards and an intensive care unit with high fidelity mannequin and audiovisual feedback equipment.

The use of simulated clinical environments to enhance clinical training for health care professionals has grown rapidly over the past decade. In an increasingly complex clinical environment, with increasing numbers of health care professionals, simulated learning environments have been suggested as an alternative to provide comprehensive and effective training. In this context simulated learning environments provide increased training capacity but importantly also provide a specific learning experience to ensure that students have exposure to complex clinical situations in a controlled learning environment that allows students to learn from their mistakes without creating risks for patients.

ACU physiotherapy students participated in a simulation clinical unit for three weeks in November – December 2014 at both ACU North Sydney and Brisbane campuses. Human role play simulations using standardized patients were used for simulations involving cardio-respiratory, neurological and musculo-skeletal physiotherapy practice. In addition, high fidelity mannequin scenarios were used to simulate higher risk situations that students need to master (such as Intensive Care) in a low risk environment. Both types of simulation models have been shown to enhance student learning of clinical skills and develop competencies, which transfer successfully to the clinical environment. This unit was offered as an introductory clinical unit for early-stage students, before progressing to traditional clinical placements.

The educators found….

… that all the students involved in responding to my scenario were professional, willing to learn and willing to respond to feedback provided at the end of the session.”
The students were very enthusiastic to soak up what learning opportunities they could. They seemed very supportive of each other.”
Enthusiastic, competent and professional students, keen to embrace the learning opportunity.”

The students themselves also found the simulation learning experience very worthwhile...

It is a great way to prepare for the upcoming year of placement. I could not imagine not doing the sim unit prior to the year ahead.”

Good environment to begin implementing skills learnt in more life-like situations. Less confronting start to develop methods of communicating and dealing with things that may pop up during placement and work.”

I feel so much more prepared for clinical practice after doing this unit.”