Simulated clinical experiences are helping to prepare Speech Pathology students for their future workplaces.
Sim labs mimic a health environment, complete with sounds and smells, equipment and clients. First-year Master of Speech Pathology students undertake a simulated clinic experience for four days, prior to a two-day placement in a healthcare setting.
“In simulation, students experience the entire clinical context,” explains Lecturer, Malisa Urbano.
“They practice their skills including patient documentation, observing hospital protocols, working with multidisciplinary teams and completing assessments. They assemble their findings, formulate a plan and write a final note for the patient.”
Students are given a realistic scenario, including preliminary case notes. They might work with a fellow student who role-plays a client, or an actor who is given a set script.
“They practice in a low-pressure environment,” says Lecturer, Dr Lillian Krikheli. “They can ask questions and receive feedback in real time, without the time pressure of an acute setting. Students also receive feedback from the simulated client.”
Learning these skills in advance means that students can work directly with patients shortly after they commence their placement.
“Students feel more confident when they enter the real world, because they have completed the preparatory work and understand the expectations,” says Clinical Education Coordinator, Dr Rachel Davenport.
Valentina Angeloni, a final-year student in the Master of Speech Pathology degree, says that the hybrid placement model allowed her to put her theoretical learning into practice.
“Clinic placements can be intimidating, especially when you have never worked with someone who has had a stroke, dementia or motor neuron disease,” she explains. “The simulated experience was a safe space where I could feel in control of my learning experience before entering a real-world setting.”
“We discussed different topics including adult language and speech evaluations, dysphagia and hospital protocols,” she adds. “They were engaging and informative, and I particularly appreciated being able to brainstorm with and observe my peers as we conducted a case history and assessments.”
“The four-week hybrid placement and the final simulation allowed me to gain the confidence to perform examinations on actual patients once on placement. I feel ready for practice when I graduate.”
Find out more about studying Speech Pathology.