4 Tips for Incorporating Hands-On Learning Aids Into Your Healthcare Program

Considering incorporating hands-on learning aids into your healthcare program? Here are 4 things you should consider. 

As our healthcare infographic depicts, healthcare workers are in high demand, and that demand is going to keep growing. In-demand skill sets span health science pathways, from allied health professionals to nurses and physician assistants to caregivers who can work with older patients. And as demand for those skills increases, so will the importance of using teaching tools and resources that truly engage the new generations of healthcare students.

One way to engage today’s healthcare students is through the use of hands-on learning aids.

Hands-on learning works for many reasons. Today’s easily distracted students, who have a remarkably short attention spans, need active learning opportunities to stay engaged. They crave the immediate feedback that real-life training scenarios provide. Most importantly, studies show that despite a strong desire to learn, today’s students will disengage with the discussion if they don’t feel connected or don’t see the relevance.

What should you consider when incorporating hands-on learning aids for your healthcare program?

  1. Consider pre-activity. You’re using hands-on learning aids to create an experience, and you can set the stage for that experience by introducing the concept in a simple way. For instance, if you’re using the RealCare™ Geriatric Simulator to help students understand the physical limitations of elderly patients, completing an empathy assessment is a good way to kick off the hands-on experience.
  2. Start with demonstrations. Providing practice opportunities prior to the actual training experience is a good way to get your students comfortable with a new learning aid. Make sure they know that mistakes are allowed; encourage them to be successful. Combined with the opportunity for questions and answers, demonstrations can be a powerful, engaging form of training.
  3. Consider your curriculum. There are many types of hands-on learning aids out there, from low-fidelity task training arms to high-fidelity birthing models. There is a place for both, but which option will best serve your curriculum without going over-budget? Remember, low-fidelity learning aids may not look as fancy as their higher-tech counterparts, but can go a long way towards increasing student engagement in the core concepts you’re already teaching.
  4. Remember to reflect. At the end of the experience, be sure to facilitate reflection on individual performance. Ask your students how they felt during the experience, whether outcomes were met, and what they would do to make it a good experience for their patient? Not only does reflection help underscore core concepts, but it helps your students develop soft skills like critical thinking and reasoning.

Three hands-on learning tools that are making an impact in healthcare classrooms around the country our Geriatric Medication Management Kit, our Blood Pressure Simulator and our catheterization models. See them all by clicking here.

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