Posted Thursday 9 February 2023
Two hi-tech pharmacy laboratories that will enable students to learn in a safe environment that simulates real-life healthcare settings have been opened at Kingston University by healthcare pioneer Professor Dame Elizabeth Anionwu.
The simulation suites consist of a mock hospital ward, pharmacy dispensing suite and GP surgery, and are equipped with the latest technology including patient simulator mannequins that students can administer drugs to and monitor their pulse and breathing.
They were opened by Dame Elizabeth, who has had the hospital ward named in her honour - recognising her outstanding contribution to sickle cell and thalassaemia screening and counselling development as well as her efforts to address health inequalities for Black and ethnic minority communities.
The hospital ward features six beds with drug cabinets and curtains, a nurse's station and equipment that can be used to assess students' bedside manner and debrief them on best practice. The ward also leads into a pharmacy dispensing suite where students can practice prescribing the correct medication, and the right quantity, for certain illnesses. The GP suite has six cubicles for students to simulate seeing patients within a surgery environment, with desks and pedestals. Three of the bays have couches and the other three have chairs for patients to be examined.
A large amount of medical equipment including blood pressure testing equipment, ECG machines and infusion pumps has also been purchased to support the simulation scenarios.
Head of the Department of Pharmacy at Kingston University, Professor Reem Kayyali, said the opening of the suites was the realisation of a long-term ambition for the department.
"We wanted to give our students the experience of learning in a simulated situation where they can develop a range of different skills in a protected environment. Our future graduates will need to meet the new General Pharmaceutical Council standards of being independent prescribers. They will need to be able diagnose, to differentiate a serious disease from a minor ailment and confidently talk to and understand patients," she said.
It was a particular honour to have Dame Elizabeth open the suites and to name them after her, she said. "She is someone who has always been a hero in my household and has made a huge contribution to the NHS. It is so important for our students, many of whom are from Black or ethnic minority backgrounds, to have representation and role models who reflect their own experiences."
The facilities, which have largely been funded by a grant of more than £250,000 from Health Education England, will give the University's pharmacy students access to simulation-based learning with practical sessions featuring actors and mannequins to replicate GP and hospital scenarios. This will allow students the opportunity to develop their clinical and diagnostic skills and take them into healthcare settings such as GPs, hospitals and care homes.
Dame Elizabeth, who was recognised in 2017 for her services to nursing and the Mary Seacole Statue Appeal, said she was honoured to have the hospital ward named after her. "This is a beautiful simulation laboratory and a real step up from anything I've ever seen before," she said. "It was lovely to meet some of the pharmacy students here at Kingston University, who will really benefit from learning in an environment that will provide the best preparation for what they will experience in their future careers."
Among the students attending the launch event was fourth year pharmacy student Abena Boakye, who was looking forward to putting the clinical skills she has learned into practice. "It will be so useful to be able to test some of the theory we have learned around communication skills, interacting with patients and taking medical histories in a clinical environment – getting this hands-on experience in a range of scenarios will help us develop into really well-rounded pharmacists when we graduate."
First year PhD student Akash Heer said learning in a real-life setting will give students confidence when going into practice. "The experience gained from it will make us feel more confident and comfortable in a hospital environment, meaning it's less likely we'll make mistakes and would help us open up to patients."
Following the opening event, Dame Elizabeth took questions from pharmacy and nursing staff and students during a Q&A session, where she discussed her book Dreams From My Mother which explores her early years as a student nurse and health visitor, how she battled discrimination to be where she is today and Black representation in the NHS and wider world.