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Teaching Technical Skills

Hands-on learning

Helping your students achieve competence with procedures is an important part of their education. Here are a few tips you can use to make for effective learning.

1.   Determine needs – Before undertaking a procedure with your student, ask what she know about the skill. You might want to find out how often, if ever, she has performed the technique. Was she an observer or did she perform it herself? You might ask the student to talk her way through the procedure as if she were doing it. In this way, you can get a good idea of her progress towards competence and where their needs are. Discuss issues she needs work on. You might recommend references she can consult before the procedure. Many students like to learn by watching videos on sites like YouTube.

2.   Plan – Once you know what the student can do, decide how the procedure will go. Determine what part he will play. He should be involved in some capacity, even if it is confined to getting patient consent, or prep and set up. 

3.  Demonstrate – If a student has not yet done aspects of a procedure, you may prefer to do it yourself while she observes. Discuss what you are doing and why. Talk about potential problems and complications that might be encountered.

4.  Observe – Take notes while the trainee performs his role. Think about areas in which he might improve his performance.

5.   Feedback – Discuss how things went. First, ask for the student's opinion of what went well, and what needs to be improved. You agree where you can endorse their self-assessment, and correct where necessary. Then you offer your own opinion on what went well and what needs improvement. Try to focus on one or two points rather than making a “laundry list” of things that need to be done before competence is achieved.

6.   Practice – We appreciate that doing a procedure once, however well you do it, does not guarantee competence for practice. Trainees need the ability to deal with subtle differences and unexpected outcomes before they are ready for practice. Give them the opportunity to do as many as is feasible.

The CFPC Key Features for procedure skills [PDF - 156 KB]


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