Improving Student Health Assessment Skills in First Year Nursing Students: A Study Looking at an Alternative Approach

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Judy A. K. Bornais, RN, BA, BScN, MSc
Maher M. El-Masri, RN, PhD
Faculty of Nursing, University of Windsor, Windsor, ON, Canada

Learning Objective 1: "...describe alternative approaches to teaching health assessment"

Learning Objective 2: "...identify standardized patients as an effective educational technique in undergraduate nursing education"


 While the use of standardized patients is a well-established approach in medicine, it is relatively new to nursing education. The purpose of this study was to compare health assessment skills performance between students who practice on standardized patients and those who practiced using traditional health assessment approach. 


 A pretest-posttest, randomized control group design was conducted on a convenience sample of 108 first year undergraduate Baccalaureate nursing students.  Study participants were recruited from a university and a community college collaborative nursing program in Ontario, Canada.


 Our results suggested that using standardized patients, as compared to traditional approach, for teaching in health assessment labs resulted in a significant difference in students Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCE) mean scores.  The results on students theoretical mean scores were however not statistically different between the two groups.


The findings suggest that the use of an alternative approach to teaching health assessment can enhance students’ health assessment skills.