Educating the healthcare leaders of tomorrow
George Wigmore, Senior Communications Officer in the School of Health Sciences, attended the launch of the School's new Clinical Skills Centre and six new research centres to find out more about how it will help students and also position the School as one of the leading health education and policy institutions in the country.
Row upon row of the latest technology sit side by side, blinking and sparkling in their new setting. Yet this equipment - ranging from a fully simulated nursing ward and a virtual 3D environment for radiotherapy training, along with other ground-breaking teaching technology to carry out advanced visual and optometric tests - is not just about the gadgets, but is about enabling students to practice difficult clinical skills in a realistic but safe environment.
Stepping into the different rooms within the Centre it is easy to forget that you are actually in a university instead of a state-of-the-art hospital in the heart of London. By mirroring 'real' healthcare environments, the interdisciplinary Clinical Skills Centre provides a space where students can learn without fear of their mistakes having serious repercussions. In addition, with the tools and training from City's expert staff, students have the ideal environment to go on and have successful careers in their chosen sector.
With a history spanning over 120 years, the launch of these new centres is a major advancement of the School's activities in research and education. This history was also reflected in the naming of one of the rooms after the late Baroness Jean MacFarlane, a pioneer in nursing, whose family came along for the unveiling of a plaque commemorating her achievements.
Trained at St Bartholomew's School of Nursing, a precursor of the School of Health Sciences, Baroness McFarlane had a profound impact on nurse education and research, initiating some of its most exciting developments. This included the development of 'grand theory' and the introduction of the systematic problem solving approach known as 'the nursing process', that became an integral feature to the delivery of care. It is this kind of interdisciplinary and revolutionary work that the School continues to instil in its students.
Addressing a packed lecture theatre of almost 200 people Professor Stan Newman, Dean of the School, spoke passionately about applied healthcare research, highlighting not only the great research that goes on in the School and the impact it can have in the real world, but also the challenges we face.
A quote from John Forbe in 1819 made this point perfectly, as following the introduction of the stethoscope, Forbe spoke about the technology, expressing his doubt "that it will ever come into general use notwithstanding its value… because its beneficial application requires much time and gives a good bit of trouble both to the patient and the practitioner".
This sentiment was also echoed by Professor Chris Fowler, Managing Director for Health Education North Central and East London, who spoke eloquently about the issues facing the sector and the NHS, and in particular the need to get "the right people, in the right numbers, at the right time, with the right skills, knowledge and behaviours".
While these challenges remain, quality teaching and research can - and will - make a difference. Speaking about the role of applied health research, Professor Newman highlighted how it has the capacity to not only identify where health and social care problems occur, but also evaluate the access, delivery and outcome of health care. This will enabling us to develop the policies that are most likely to have a substantial impact on health and well-being.
Resistance to change and new technology, as mentioned by Professor Newman in his talk, is something which is still prevalent in the sector, with many practitioners uncertain of how new tools can assist them. As, according to Professor Newman, Forbes' quote could be directed to any healthcare innovation, such is the prevailing attitude towards change.
Yet with access to the best equipment and education, students at the School will be equipped with the skills, adaptability and also knowledge to make a difference to the well-being of patients today and also tomorrow as future leaders in their respective fields.