- The Faculty of Health Sciences at Manresa is a pioneer in the implementation of a pilot test to establish a system for assessing the competencies of nursing students based on ACOE
- The degree in Nursing has also launched a transversal programme for the development of emotional competencies
During the 2020-2021 academic year, the Faculty of Health Sciences at Manresa has introduced two important innovations to the degree in Nursing with the main aim of improving the competencies of students graduating on campus and establishing a system that allows the evaluation, year after year, of how each student’s competence level evolves. Nursing studies were the first to establish Objective and Structured Clinical Evaluation (ACOE). So far, a pilot test has been carried out among second-year undergraduate students. The intention is that, in the long term, it will become a tool for assessing the competencies that the student must achieve during their academic track at UManresa to obtain a degree in Nursing. In the same academic year, a transversal programme to develop emotional competencies was launched to prepare future professionals for the challenges relating to interpersonal relationships and self-control that they will have to face when they work in the profession.
Nursing studies were the first to establish Objective and Structured Clinical Evaluation (ACOE) with a pilot test that, in the long term, it will become a tool for assessing the competencies of the students that obtain the degree.
One hundred students, five settings and twenty professionals to assess competencies
A hundred second-year undergraduate nursing students took part in the ACOE pilot test last year. The implementation of this pilot test was made possible by the provision of technical equipment from the Clínica Universitària’s Center for Innovation in Simulation (CISARC). It was crucial to have teaching staff trained in CISARC’s own simulation learning methodology.
An ACOE usually covers between twenty and thirty scenarios that allow assessment of all the competencies that a nursing student must have acquired during the four years of study. In the pilot test carried out at UManresa, this was reduced to five scenarios to assess competencies of relations and communication and the performance of specific techniques and procedures. Although only a few scenarios were completed and only a limited number of essential nursing competencies were assessed, the organization of this ACOE was highly complex, due to the large number of teachers, computer and technical staff involved in the design and performance of the tests, and the large number of spaces, materials and computer resources that were needed to manage and evaluate the results of the activity. In addition to this organizational complexity, it was the first time that simulation was used for evaluation purposes. Until now, this methodology had been limited to education, learning, training and protocol testing objectives.
The organization of this ACOE was highly complex, due to the large number of teachers, computer and technical staff involved, as well as the large number of spaces, materials and computer resources that were needed for the activity.
A test that unifies evaluation criteria
The completion of the ACOE and the data obtained from it are very useful for students and teachers. Individually, each student can find out what level he/she has reached in relation to the course objectives and has information on which elements of competence need more work to achieve the professional skills that must be mastered by the end of the studies. The test results also allow teachers to check whether students are achieving their goals and to determine each group’s progress in competencies.
According to the director of the degree in Nursing at UManresa, Carme Valiente, “we started with a pilot test, but what we want is for the ACOE, after validation as an assessment tool, to become essential to pass the fourth year Practicum and finish the studies.” One of the advantages of this type of test is that it unifies the evaluation criteria currently used in practicums. Valiente explains that “in the practicums, there are different tutors and health services that make it difficult to ensure unified criteria. With the ACOE, all students must solve the same situations and they are all under the same conditions."
The ACOE pilot test in Nursing is part of the activity of the Research Group on Teaching Innovation, Simulation and Patient Safety (GrindoSSeP) aimed at obtaining data on the standard level of students and the value that students give this type of testing and methodologies.
The students of the Nursing degree in UManresa learn to assess their emotional competencies and they learn to identify the impact that emotions can have on thinking and behaviour, and to reap benefits in professional practice.
Emotional competencies for daily work in Nursing
Emotional management is one of the competencies that a future nursing professional must work on. Consequently, the degree in Nursing has launched a transversal programme that aims to help students develop their emotional competencies. The aim is to provide basic tools for emotional management, to learn to identify the impact that emotions can have on thinking and behaviour, and to reap benefits in professional practice.
The programme began last academic year and will resume this academic year 2021-2022. It takes shape in the form of seminars in which all undergraduate students participate, from the first to the fourth year. The continuity of the programme allows assessment of whether emotional competencies improve from the start to the end of studies. During the first year, students learn to assess their emotional competencies and take a test in relation to them. During the second and third year, they work on the development of emotional management and self-motivation. Finally, during the fourth year, soft skills are strengthened and the test taken at the beginning of the studies is repeated to check if there has been a positive evolution.
All seminars are held in small groups of fifteen people and last four hours. They are carried out just when the practicums of each course have ended, as one of the objectives is to work on the basis of experiences gained and emotions felt during this period.
«Future nurses must develop and enhance emotional competencies so that when they finish their studies they have the self-confidence and self-esteem needed to respond to the daily challenges of the nursing profession»
According to the director of studies, Carme Valiente, this programme has not come from nowhere: rather it continues previous actions that were carried out as part of practicums. “We understand,” she explains, “that in addition to mastering technical skills and applying theoretical knowledge in nursing and health sciences, future professionals must develop and enhance emotional competencies so that when they finish their studies they have the self-confidence and self-esteem needed to respond to the daily challenges of the nursing profession.”