We recently sat down with the some students and staff from BSc Speech & Language Therapy to discuss the new teaching methods that have been introduced to the curriculum: these range from wider clinical skills sessions and discussions, to acting out real-life scenarios in brand new simulation suites. Here’s what Senior Clinical Teaching Fellow, Emma Ormerod had to say about the course…
As part of our changing the programme from a 4 year to a 3 year programme, we wanted to design a course that helped build both professional and clinical skills. So, when creating this unit, my task was to amalgamate the two.
I wanted to look into the learning theories behind it and what would be the best way to cover that material: this led me to look at simulation. It’s been widely used in medicine and but for Speech & Language Therapy (SLT) its relatively new.
A lot of the work is coming out of the University of Queensland, Australia, so, earlier this year I put in a bid for some funding from the University’s ‘Investing in Success’ scheme and was awarded some money to go out and visit the University to work with the team and observe a week of simulation with adult clients.
This really helped us update our course and re-write the curriculum; what we’re trialing this year is delivering clinically influenced course to all of our students, not only with simulation so that they can access practical skills such as dysphagia for example, but other units that further develop clinical skills.
With 2 clinically focused units, the aim is to provide both theoretical knowledge as well as build practical skills; for the last 6 weeks of teaching, we have been using real patient data in simulation and taking a slowed-down approach to working through paediatric cases, for example: we work through from assessment, to diagnosis, therapy and various other bedside assessments, as well as talking to relatives with both in and out-patients.
Simulation allows you to take things at half-speed and help the students with their learning so they get the most out of a case; not only are they practicing things like dysphagia and paediatric cases, they are learning clinical skills such as resilience, time-management, leading people and managing a case as a the whole. We feel it’s been really successful in delivering these skills and helping bridge between the theoretical and getting student’s ready for placement.
So, now that we’ve heard the rundown from an academic’s perspective, let’s hear what the students thought of these new modules and the facilities…
Can you explain the facility?
They call it a clinical simulation suite: it’s basically a room where you discuss clinical scenarios and go through a case from start to finish; we did dysphagia (swallowing) and I thought it was really useful because I haven’t been on that kind of placement yet and I got to see videos of bedside assessments and fluoroscopies beforehand.
It’s different from a lecture because you get to talk through the case with people that have done it before, rather than just listen to a lecturer and take in reams of slides; it’s just more interesting and interactive and involves a lot roleplay.
There can be scenarios where you’re talking to a relative about what has/will be done with the patient, or even talking to another SLT about handing over a case half-way through; they also do a lot on paperwork – it’s quite hands-on and it’s useful if you’ve never done it before because the case-notes are different and have a lot more structure, so you need to write a lot faster.
They also do online simulator learning which you must do beforehand so that you can come into the lecture with prior knowledge which you can then build on in roleplays.
Can you describe the module you’ve done?
Sure. On our course we have a module called ‘Acquired Communication’ and this is one of the simulated clinical sessions: what we do is learn through roleplay and real-life experiences from clients and service users – it’s just much more of an interactive way to learn.
How’s it different from a lecture theatre?
It’s much more engaging and you’re able to learn on the spot; we work in smaller groups and in roleplay you have an option to time-out, which means you can get help and feedback from peers and teachers – it’s much more reflective. We’re always moving from session to session so you can’t switch off as easily as you might in a lecture.
How do you think this will help you on placement?
I’m going on placement in a few weeks and I feel this module has equipped me with a lot the skills, organisation, confidence and more of a feel of what to expect in year 2, such as producing quicker case notes, using the correct jargon and how to inform parents and clients about a case.
What was the facility?
It’s basically a mock simulation clinic where we go into a suite and talk through client cases and our instructors try to imitate the relevant processes that we’d go through in real life practice: we go from referral, right through to diagnosis and recommendation, as well as seeing the client and their families afterwards.
Do you feel it helps you learn more?
I find it a lot more useful because it’s more hands-on – I know for me, at least, I’m a kinaesthetic learner: I remember things a lot more when I do them. I find this a lot better because sometimes you can switch off a little in a lecture and not be as engaged as in a simulation clinic where our instructors are always encouraging us to apply our skills in real life.