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A day in the life of a Clinical Skills Tutor: now recruiting!

Commuting to work is never a chore if you love the work that you do; even if it requires an alarm at 0530hrs, a field full of horses at 0600hrs and a train at 0718hrs.


Deirdre with the other love in her life (aside from Clinical Skills of course!)

Monday is particularly rewarding. At 0900hrs I am joined by six 4th year students for an intensive and focused day learning how to recognise and treat a critically Ill patient. Using scenarios based on common clinical emergencies the students’ role play with each other and a manikin implementing the ABCDE care of the critically ill patient assessment and treatment algorithm.  In order to put this into perspective we follow up this two hour session with a visit to the Critical Care Unit in the hospital. After orientating ourselves to the Unit we choose a patient and a nurse to work with allowing us to immerse the students into the workplace. They immediately put theory into practice and recognise the relevance of all the physiology they have studied. Suddenly CO = SV x HR is not just a frustrating formula in a book but has a  real-life application!

As their tutor I need to be very sensitive to the students’ reactions to this critical environment as they often find it quite a dramatic learning experience. This is often the first time they have encountered someone who is critically ill and it can be very powerful. We always ensure there is time for reflection and a debrief, often aided by tea and biscuits!

Feedback from the students about the critical care day is always excellent with many saying it has been their best day in medical school so far. It is so rewarding to use my previous nursing experience and skills as a teacher to inspire such a great group of enthusiastic students.

After lunch the students return to the Clinical Skills Centre where they will learn how to cannulate on a manikin. They love getting some hands on experience and the chance to practice skills they OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAwill use every day once they qualify. They cannulate each other (ouch!) before my colleague Nicky takes them to A&E where they will get the opportunity to cannulate the patients there under supervision.  The students appreciate the supportive presence of the skills tutor guiding them through what is a very important and high risk intravenous procedure.  More importantly, the patients feel more secure too, and often act as coaches for the students. A common phrase from patients is “I’m happy to be a guinea pig. They have to start somewhere!” Orientation to the monitoring equipment, oxygen therapy, performing a 12 lead ECG and even a bit of plastering are only a few of the skills the students will be performing during the afternoon.

While they are having fun in A&E it leaves me free to meet with four of my Year 1 personal tutees to check how they are settling into the course and University life. I really get to know these students and act as a mentor, helping them solve problems from being homesick to dealing with nerves when preparing for examinations. This week I also have several draft assignments to comment on from the UCL/RCP Post Graduate Certificate in Medical Education, for which I am a tutor. This requires me to advise Postgraduate students on the use of pedagogical theory and research, and on written communication skills.

I’ll finish my day addressing the commercial aspect of my role by enrolling another four fee paying clients onto our next Phlebotomy course. The Clinical Skills Centre is in high demand, not only from our undergraduate students but from postgraduate doctors, nurses and scientists who need extra training in order to gain employment or to prepare for examinations.  We are able to use the monies earned from these extracurricular activities to purchase more equipment for the skills centres to enhance the students learning experience.

My role as a Clinical Skills Tutor is rewarding, busy and varied. Our Clinical Skills Team is a supportive and friendly group, and we are currently recruiting for an experienced nurse to join us. If you are interested please read the job specification and get in touch. The deadline is fast approaching!

The Team. Come and join us!

Click here to see the job advertisement and complete the application form. Hurry, as the deadline is 13th December 2012.

If you would like to find out more about the role of a Clinical Skills Tutor, or the courses on offer at the Clinical Skills Centre please contact Deirdre Wallace. Clinical Skills Tutor and Manager.



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