Preparing physiotherapy students for clinical practice through the use of simulation


To incorporate simulation within the Physiotherapy teaching programme allowing students to engage with simulated clinical situations. Learning alongside peers developing confidence and skills required to be effective physiotherapists.


Physiotherapy second year students experienced the use of simulation within the Community House at Coventry University. Students worked in small groups on a number of problem based learning tasks requiring them to adapt to the environment and situation. Staff then led a debrief for students to reflect and progress.

Secondly, students from Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy and Dietetics were invited to attend an extracurricular simulation event where they experienced simulated situations that will enhance their ability to interact and respond to clinical situations.

Station 1: An ethical dilemma where a patient is fed via a Nasogastric tube and wants to eat.

Station 2: Students watch a virtual reality aggressive patient situation and discuss how to deal with the given situation.

Station 3: Intensive care simulation room, where a patient is in the process of weaning from ventilator. Multidisciplinary discussion led by ward doctor with patient present. Exploring treatment plans and discharge pressures while also considering how staff communication impacts on patients.

Station 4: Amputee patient post-surgery in process of discharge planning from acute hospital to home. Exploring team working skills and problem solving of situations.

Following each 15 minute simulation students were guided through a group debrief where a member of staff facilitated the exploration of the experience.


Students provided anonymous written feedback before and after the community house session, providing three words to describe their feelings towards community neurological working. The most common word prior to the teaching was ´nervous´ and following was ´excited´.

The Inter Professional Education events was positively received by students across all three levels of teaching. Students valued the experience to learn transferable skills in a safe environment as well as engaging with peers from different professions. Satisfaction scores and feedback was collected via online feedback forms.

Students find simulation interesting and useful, especially in relation to confidence, experience and development as practitioners. This is in addition to competency skills shown in other areas of healthcare

Cost and savings

Students are accepting of multi-disciplinary working but also value uni-professional simulation.

Rooms and equipment were available at the University but without this you would have to hire facilities. 


Simulation currently holds an important place within education of healthcare professionals. This can range from more traditional methods of role play and case scenarios, but has now evolved into using flexible environments, cross profession working, problem based learning and virtual reality. Many of these experiences would greatly benefit current clinical staff to improve clinical skills, communication and team working. Students engage within the task, review positively and share experiences.

Further projects have been planned and involve teaching physiotherapy students within simulation facilities at Coventry University such as the High Dependency Unit, Acute Wards, Community settings and virtual reality settings. As well as methods to measure student confidence and competency in specific tasks.

Top three learning points

  1. Simulation needs to be enjoyable, flexible and dynamic.
  2. Students engage well with each other but do require guidance within tasks or following.
  3. Discussing (debriefing) is vital.

Funding acknowledgements

This work was not funded.

Additional notes

This work was presented at Physiotherapy UK 2018.