The Nursing Skills Lab

Caroline Buttress

Faculty: Health, Education, Medicine and Social Care
School: School of Nursing and Midwifery
Course: BSc Adult Nursing
Category: Nursing and midwifery

9 February 2019

It would be worrying if I said that practice wasn’t my favourite element of nurse training. In order to work effectively in a real hospital ward, undertaking some basic skills in the safety of the university skills lab have proved invaluable.

Set up as a mock hospital ward, the skills lab has been created so that students get a feel for what it would be like to undertake the relevant skills of each practical lecture in a hospital environment.

skill labs  

For the pictures in this blog, I stepped into a ‘Moving and Handling’ practical session with some 1st year Nursing Associates.  This training is undertaken annually and is imperative for all nursing students as they cannot practice without up-to-date training.  As you can see the students tried and tested the manoeuvres on one another to see how it feels from the perspective of the recipient / patient.  

manual handling exercise
manual handling exercise

Other topics you may encounter in the skills lab include catheterisation, medicine calculation, basic life support training, injection technique, responding to the acutely unwell patient and inserting nasal gastric tubes (to feed patients).  Whatever the topic, the lecturers try to keep things as practical as possible, there is definitely no room for spectators in this environment so everybody gets stuck in!!!

Anatomy model for student nurses

This is a fantastic environment not only to enhance your clinical skills but also to identify areas where you feel you have less confidence.  In these cases the skills lecturer is usually happy to lay on extra sessions to revisit the problematic areas. It’s worth reminding you that the skills lab is a safe environment, therefore it really doesn’t matter if you make mistakes. Far better you make mistakes in this mock environment and address them there, than make them on a ward and risk patient safety.

rules in the skill labs

Also, just like being on placement the skills lab is considered to be a professional environment, so uniform protocol must be adhered to at all times and punctuality is a must.  The skills lab is also a great place to release your inner thesbian and partake in a bit of role play. Whether you’re playing the dying swan, an uppity doctor or indeed the attentive nurse, it a great place to have fun with your peers.


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