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My Story as a Clinical Skills Tutor

Updated: Aug 2, 2023

My name is Jacob, I arrived here in the United Kingdom in 2015. I started working as a band 5 nurse in the medical assessment unit. After 2 years, I got the band 6 Deputy Ward Manager post in the same unit, where I stayed until the end of 2021. In early 2022 I took a 6-month COVID-budget secondment post as a Practice Development Nurse in the surgical department. The department wanted to keep me longer but unfortunately, they had no more funds for that band 7 post. Almost as if on cue, a vacancy came up for a Clinical Skills Tutor post for our affiliated medical school. And fortunately, I got the job.

What does a Clinical Skills Tutor do?

The job mainly involves teaching clinical skills like venepuncture, cannulation, basic suturing, catheterisation, airway management, and more to medical students from year 1 up to year 6. We start off with simple skills like observation-taking for year one, and progress to more complex skills as they advance.

Part of my job is the maintenance, safe-keeping, and ordering of anatomical models, equipment and medical supplies used for teaching. During formative and summative examinations, I am part of the team that prepares the physical set-up, does the student briefing, leads the exam flow, and coordinates the examination helpers and volunteer patients. I may also be asked to be an examiner or mark a part of the written exam where appropriate.

What is the work pattern like?

This is a Monday to Friday but not always a nine-to-five job. Where needed, I sometimes come in early or go home later than 5 pm to prepare for the next day. It’s a matter of balancing the hours depending on the situation. I’m always off work when it’s a bank holiday, and depending on the number of admin tasks, I sometimes get a couple of days off during school breaks too.

What’s the difference between a Practice Development Nurse and a Clinical Skills Tutor?

The main difference is the group of learners and the setting where I teach. As PDN, I was teaching, supervising, and assessing newly qualified nurses in the clinical area during their shifts. As Clinical Skills Tutor, I get to teach undergraduate medical students in the classroom. I prefer teaching in this setup because the learner is in a safe space where the main objective is to listen and learn a skill. There are no pending tasks like medication administration or clinical notes to write. It's very rare that there are any disturbances that can cut the teaching short. Thus, the teaching sessions are well-planned, not rushed, the equipment is complete, and the students are focused and eager to learn.

What are the challenges of the role?

The biggest challenge is adjusting to the different work patterns. For over 12 years I have been used to working 8 or 12-hour shifts and getting 3 or 4 days off per week. With this job, I work 5 days a week. Even though it is shorter hours per day, I only get two days off. On a positive note, my days off are predictable, them being Saturday and Sunday. So, I can plan activities or travel with certainty and without fear of being called to cover any sick call or staff shortage.

The second biggest challenge is the full-day lectures. Talking for a full day can be very draining. When the class is finished, I just want to put my feet up, rest and not speak for a few hours. But I can’t do this straight away since I have to clear the room and store whatever equipment we used. Fortunately, whole-day lectures don’t happen five times a week. There is a rotation between lectures, skills return demonstrations, revision sessions, and examination days.

What advice can you give to nurses who want to follow this career path?

To have a chance at this type of job, you need to have a minimum of two years of acute clinical experience as standard. In addition, you need to be fully trained for the majority, if not all, of your clinical skills. Take every opportunity in your unit to join study days for your major clinical skills like phlebotomy, cannulation, NG tube insertion, catheterisation, PICC line care, CBG & blood ketones training, etc.

You must also have official teaching or mentoring experience. This can include you being assigned as a nurse supervisor or nurse assessor for nursing students or being a preceptor to junior nurses. Make sure to keep track of this and keep a record of it. Should there be a chance for a mentorship course or leadership training in your trust, again grab that opportunity as this will be the icing on the cake and make you more desirable for the job.

Vacancies for this job do not come too often but as early as now, start building your clinical and teaching portfolio so that when it does come, you can take a shot. Alternatively, there are other teaching avenues like being a practice development nurse, clinical education, or as a teacher for nursing education in different universities around the UK.

Can I contact you if I have some other questions or need advice?

Sure! I am always happy to help fellow nurses and kabayans with regard to work matters. If you want to reach out to me, you can message me via my Facebook, Instagram or Youtube where I am known as Jake UKRN. Keep learning and stay kind!

Tiktok: @jakeukrn


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