Clinical skills lab to boost confidence

31 October 2011

Students Olivia Catry and Curt BarnesPractice makes perfect: Students Olivia Catry and Curt Barnes, both in their third year of physiotherapy studies, demonstrate some of the equipment in the new clinical skills lab.

UCT's School of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences has opened a new clinical skills lab, designed as a safe environment for health sciences students to sharpen their skills prior to attending to real patients.

The lab, in a refurbished and converted ward at Groote Schuur Hospital's Old Main Building, is equipped with the latest diagnostic and treatment tools, as well as a computer lab, to allow both students and tutors to test their skills.

Dr George Draper, director of the Clinical Skills Programme in the faculty, noted that the lab was born out of the realisation that patients are fast becoming conscious of their rights to be attended to in a professional manner. Sometimes, though, students lack confidence when going to the clinics for the first time.

"This lab provides an opportunity for students to practise and for tutors to correct mistakes beforehand," said Draper.

Professor Gonda Perez, deputy dean of the faculty, said there had been reports of students having a "terrible" time, with some being overwhelmed and distressed by their first encounters with patients.

"This kind of environment will boost the confidence and competence not only of students, but of academics too, as they can learn new skills and acquaint themselves with new equipment."

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