Clinical workshops – All you need to know

In this Q&A style video, Ben sat down with Simon, our Training and Assessment Manager, to grill him on everything students need to know about clinical workshops!

Workshops are such a critical part of all our course programs at Australian Paramedical College. They’re very exciting, but can also be a little scary for some.

For the majority of students of the Certificate III in Non-Emergency Patient Transport, Certificate IV in Health Care and Diploma of Emergency Health Care, the first workshop, or “Workshop One” as we call it, is their first chance to meet our trainers and fellow students face-to-face, and practice emergency health care skills on real equipment.

Students are often not exactly sure what to expect and what will be expected of them, but Simon assures that they have no reason to be nervous.

“We do a lot of work in the beginning of the workshops to make sure, you’re introduced to everyone and that you know exactly what’s about to happen and really what’s expected of you.”

So what should students expect at their first workshop?

A typical workshop will have around a dozen students and two or three trainers in every workshop. They are structured around teaching fundamental skills.

“Each skill we’ll do a short theoretical session followed by a demonstration, and then we’ll break into small groups and everyone gets to play with the gear, see how it works, make mistakes. The trainers come round, answer any questions and we just slowly build you up in that way,” says Simon.

Students will need to come prepared. The college provides a branded t-shirt for each student, but they will need to wear standard industry work pants and boots, and bring their own note pad, pen, and own stethoscope.

So what topics and skills are covered in a workshop?

Simon explains, “Workshop One is really about patient assessment. So we talk about primary survey, secondary survey, all the vital signs and using all that equipment. It’s really about figuring out what’s wrong with the patient. We do do a little bit of management as well in workshop one. Then in workshop two, we build upon that skill set and put in a lot more advanced skills.”

For many students, the most stressful part of workshops is anticipating the inevitable assessments. We get it. No one likes the idea of being watched and assessed. But according to Simon, students shouldn’t feel under the microscope.

“The way that I would visualize the assessments as a student, they’re just a way for you to demonstrate competence. All we want to know is that you are safe. You don’t have to treat your patients exactly the way I would treat them. You just have to do it in a safe way.”

On how assessments are conducted, Simon explains, “We do some [assessments] during the week on little bits and pieces. So maybe watching you take a blood pressure or an ECG, and we can sign you off as competent in that, but we also combine all the skills together and move you towards what we call a scenario. […] There’ll be a simulated patient and you’re required to role-play assessing them and providing any management you might need.”

Students can sometimes be unsure if they are properly prepared for a workshop. They might be questioning if they have enough understanding or can recall certain protocols or acronyms used in health care and paramedicine.

Simon’s advice is that if students have completed the necessary theory units recently and come with the right attitude to learn and get involved, they should be confident to attend.

“Students are not expected to have memorized all that content. We review it during the week. There are some things that by the time you get to your assessment, you will need to have memorized, but we’ll guide you on that, and there’s really no point starting before the workshop.

In a final word of advice, Simon elaborates on what is the “winning attitude” to have as a student coming to a workshop.

“Students who are willing to come and really engage with the lessons, practice with all the gear, make all those mistakes and do all that, are expected to do very well in the assessments. If you’re one of those students who likes to hang back and maybe watch other people do it a lot of the time, you might find it difficult when it comes to the assessments. Really the only way to learn this kind of skill heavy content is to get your hands dirty and play with it.”

We look forward to meeting all our students at their workshop and hope they now feel more informed and prepared for what is a very exciting and rewarding experience.

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