Nursing students at Portsmouth are being given a boost in learning, thanks to a £300,000 grant to help train them in the wake of the Covid pandemic shutting some doors to learning.

Simulated learning has been shown to help nursing students gain the practice and experience needed to develop into superb nurses, while protecting patient safety.

The University of Portsmouth was awarded the funding to update its already rich suite of simulation software and facilities for nursing and allied health professional students which has made it a leader in the field.

Anatomage in action - it is the industry-leading software for studying anatomy

Simulation has been in greater demand since the Covid pandemic put increased pressure on the NHS being able to offer student placements.

Leader of Nursing at Portsmouth, Dr Isobel Ryder, said: "Simulation-based education provides a valuable opportunity to better prepare the future nursing and allied health professional workforce. Portsmouth has been a leader in this field for a number of years.

“Our nursing programme was the first to gain accreditation from the Association of Simulated Practice in Healthcare (ASPiH).

“By embracing the best opportunities to embed simulation-based education in our programmes, we are able to support students to deepen their understanding, enrich existing placement learning and improve patient safety."

Portsmouth has been a leader in this field for a number of years

Dr Isobel Ryder, Leader of Nursing

The £300,000 grant comes from Health Education England.

The funds will be used to deliver a one-off six-week simulated placement for Adult and Mental Health Nursing students in their second and third years. These are the students most likely to have seen opportunities for frontline learning curtailed by Covid.

The placements will include working with standardised patients on Portsmouth’s simulated wards and community settings.

Students will work in shifts and be responsible for handover of patients and ward rounds, as well as working effectively with radiography, operating department practitioner and paramedic science students. The course will teach them about the leadership structure in healthcare and how to manage emergencies and complex patients.

Simulated learning helps nursing students gain practice and experience and protects patient safety

Portsmouth’s existing simulation facilities include realistic mock-ups of home, GP and hospital settings. It includes the Anatomage, which is the industry leading software for studying anatomy and dissecting the human body.

Simulation-based education gives students time to practice technical and communication skills in a safe and supported learning environment. Paid actors are used as patients alongside the software.

Together, the excellence in simulated learning at Portsmouth gives students opportunities to make mistakes, learn and then repeat any given situation as many times as is necessary to be fully competent upon graduation.

Dr Ryder said alongside an ongoing need for more nurses and allied health professionals, Covid has made traditional placements extremely difficult or even impossible.

Statutory and regulatory bodies including the Nursing and Midwifery Council have had to consider how simulated placements can support current and future learners and how it can be increased to meet the country’s needs for qualified frontline staff.

Last year, Portsmouth undergraduates did a two-week simulated placement which included meeting patients, dealing with angry or anxious people, and those with mental health issues.


The students who attended reported feeling much better prepared to go into their first NHS placement a few weeks later.