Ms. Heidi Gonzalez volunteered to lead a new innovation for VSU’s School of Nursing that was held on August 17th to boost skills acquisition, confidence, and critical thinking for nursing students that “rested” from nursing all summer. The innovation included a non-threatening, fun, interactive Skills Fair for students. The evidence suggests a need for this re-acquaintance of skills. According to the research, psychomotor skills decline over time even among licensed experienced professionals. Health care practitioners experience deterioration of skills after as little as 2 weeks without performing the skill and require some review to reacquaint themselves with the procedure. Within 2 months, the psychomotor skill may need to be relearned. When this concept is applied to nursing students for whom each and every skill is new, it is no surprise they have diminished accuracy1.
The Skills Fair Team included Ms. Heidi Gonzalez, Ms. Michele Blankenship, Ms. Denise Sauls, and Ms. Laura Carter. The team placed evidence-based rationale, critical thinking prompts, and evidence-based videos to the current psychomotor skill rubrics. The rubrics, scheduling, and instructions were shared with faculty and students prior to the Skills Fair. The Interim Dean and SON Faculty volunteered to participate and utilize consistent teaching strategies, i.e., demonstration, cooperative learning, guided practice, and simulation to prepare students for the clinical experience2. Students were placed into 8 teams based on attributes of critical thinking: Perseverance, Flexibility, Confidence, Creativity, Inquisitiveness, Reflection, Analyzing, and Intuition. Thinking critically like a nurse is becoming a benchmark of professional competence and student performance. The students rotated every twenty minutes through 8 stations: Vital signs, 10-minute assessment, Skin assessment/Braden and Restraints, Nasogastric intubation, Foley catheter insertion, Injections IM and SQ, IV Therapy, and a Safety Station. The Jr. 2 and Sr.1 students (106) were required to attend the Skills Fair either in Session 1 from 9am-12pm or Session 2 from 1pm-4pm.
The Team worked together to make this event as festive as possible to engage the students with balloons, candy, tri-boards, signs, and engaging pre- and post-activities. The verbal reviews from students were overwhelmingly positive. The written student evaluations have not formally been evaluated, but several themes are emerging:
- Take Away: “The Skills Fair helped me recall the skills I learned from my first semester. I feel more confident now about going to the hospital to perform these skills on live patients.”
- Comments: “Thank you to the staff, this was a VERY good opportunity!” “Great idea!”
- Suggestions: “Having more time, at some stations, I felt rushed. Maybe next time it can be 4 hours.”
- Highlight of Fair: “Meet faculty, have them answer questions, as well as a demonstration.”
- Roberts, S. T., Vignato, J. A., Moore, J. L., & Madden, C. A. (2009). Promoting skill building
and confidence in freshman nursing students with a “skills-a-thon”. Educational
Innovations, 48(8), 460-464. doi:10.3928/01484834- 20090518-05
- McCausland, L. L. & Meyers, C. C. (2013). An interactive skills fair to prepare undergraduate
nursing students for clinical experience. Nursing Education Perspectives, 34(6), 419-420.