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Putting perioperative skills into practice

Teesside students have benefitted from a hands-on, simulation surgery day designed to prepare the next generation of Operating Department Practitioners (ODP).

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The students, who are all in the second year of their BSc (Hons) Operating Department Practice Studies degree at Teesside University, had the chance to test out the skills they have learned in a state-of-the-art simulated environment.

Activities took place in three separate mock operating theatres and included a caesarean section, a laparotomy open abdominal procedure and a laparoscopic procedure – all on simulation mannequins. Members of staff from the University and local healthcare providers also attended to assist and play the roles of surgeons and anaesthetists

The course prepares students with the knowledge, skills and understanding to contribute fully to healthcare delivery in a dynamic and fast-paced surgical environment. As a team, the students assisted anaesthetists to put the patient to sleep, scrubbed up for the procedures and circulated to work the floor of the operating theatres.

The event was arranged by Helen Lloyd, Lecturer in ODP in the School of Health, who joined the University in May 2018. Prior to this, Helen worked as a scrub operating department practitioner in cardiothoracics at the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough.

Helen said: 'When I started my role at Teesside, I felt it was really important for students to gain a realistic experience that was as close as possible to a real operating theatre. The ODP team conducts regular simulations, also incorporating other professions within the School of Health such as midwifery and radiography.

'My first day at the University was National ODP day and I saw the team delivering a caesarean section simulation. This is where I had the idea to run a multiple theatre scenario – I thought it would be a fantastic learning experience for our students.'

Helen then worked closely with colleagues in the technical team to make her idea a reality.

She added: 'The technical team worked hard to create realistic looking organs within the simulation dummies, providing as close an experience to practice but in an environment that promotes learning and an opportunity to ask questions that sometimes practice can’t accommodate.

'In the simulation environment, students can learn and try out their skills without the fear of causing any serious consequences. The day was a great success and it really enhanced the student learning experience.'

Senior Lecturer and simulation lead for the ODP programme, Pete Brown, provided Helen with advice and guidance on setting up the simulations to ensure students met their learning objectives.

Pete, who has also recently commenced a Doctorate in Education (EdD) focusing on simulation, said: 'We have come a long way from the early days when we had very few resources on campus. We relied on Darlington Memorial Hospital who allowed us to use their theatre for practice on an evening.

'It wasn’t until around 2010 where we had our first dedicated theatre which made a big difference to the flexibility and range of simulation experience we could offer. Based on the positive feedback we have received from students over the years, we have been able to grow our simulation provision in-line with our increasing student numbers.

'This feedback provided by the students has inspired the ODP team in recent years to continually search for more innovative ways of delivering a more immersive experience for their clinical practice skills.'

Helen’s husband, Christopher Lloyd, is a Surgical Care Practitioner for County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust and was given time away from work to take part in the surgical simulation day on campus, along with his colleague Mark Bradbury, an Advanced Scrub Practitioner

Both Christopher and Mark completed their pre-registration training at Teesside University in ODP and returned more recently to study at postgraduate level in surgical care. They played the role of surgeons during the various activities and stayed in character all day.

Christopher said: 'The surgical simulation day at Teesside University is really exciting. We didn’t have these sorts of facilities back when I was training, so it is fantastic to have a mock operating theatre that students can benefit from on campus. It’s very innovative.

'We were given time away from our usual duties to take part in the simulation day. Partnerships like this are important and County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust proactively supports education and training the next generation of practitioners.'


23 November 2018