Student nurses should learn more of their skills by practising on dummies, using virtual reality and robots, instead of using patients as guinea pigs, watchdogs say. The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) wants to increase the amount of time student nurses spend practising in “simulated” environments, rather than on the ward.

The regulator says changes in technology mean trainees can learn more of their skills on 3D bodies, and using virtual reality. Currently, strict rules say that just 300 hours of the 4,600 hours student nurses spend in training can be spent in simulated environments.

Next month the regulator will consider removing that limit, leaving it to universities to decide how much time should be spent on specific types of learning. The watchdog said that while in the past, simulation had seen students practising injections by injecting an orange, modern environments were far more sophisticated, meaning rules should be reconsidered.

Jackie Smith, NMC chief executive, said the changes aimed to keep pace with technology – meaning technical skills could more often be tested without patients having to endure the stumbling efforts of a novice.   She said: “The way care is delivered needs to keep pace with new technology and innovation.

This means that the way in which student nurses are educated can never stand still. “Health simulations not only provide realistic opportunities for hands on learning in a safe environment but it also enables the learning experience to keep pace with change,” she added. Read more from…

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