Medical simulation is not just for the clinical learner. Rather, it can have far reaching impact and can contribute meaningfully to the community. In this post, Dr. Beth Thomas describes the work of Hands Up For Health which uses the power of simulation to reach young people.
What is Hands Up For Health?
Hands Up For Health is an innovative interactive learning experience delivered at the Simulation and Interactive Learning (SaIL) Centre at Guy’s and St. Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in London, UK, designed for young people at risk of social and economic disadvantage.
This charity-funded program, now in its third successful year, uses hands-on simulation activities facilitated by volunteer healthcare faculty to engage young people in health issues with which they can identify. Its key aims are to:
- Increase enthusiasm and knowledge of science and health
- Strengthen ‘life skills’ for employability and positive health behaviors
- Widen participation to healthcare careers
Learners engage in 2 days of activities consisting of first aid skills, life skills group-work, and mixed-modality simulation scenarios like drug and alcohol abuse, teenage pregnancy, and knife trauma. For the simulations, they are set in a hospital-like environment, using real-life clinical equipment, state-of-the-art manikin technology, and patient actors. This gives young people the chance to learn valuable life skills and gain an insight into what it’s like working in healthcare. All learning is framed using personal experiences, integrating opportunities for reflection.
To date, more than 500 children and young people (aged 9–24 years) have participated and evaluation shows participants achieve the learning outcome and find the program valuable, specifically:
- Hands-on learning
- Realism of the simulation experience
- The input of healthcare facilitators, who positively influenced their learning and attitudes toward healthcare careers, resulting in a 43% increase in the number of young people considering careers in healthcare after participation
Simulation in Community Education
Simulation is a valuable part of healthcare professionals’ training, but it can also be used to engage in open dialogue with wider communities and directly improve the health and aspirations of the populations we serve. Hands up for Health is an example of a fantastic community education program, offering youth-focused, experiential learning in a meaningful, fun, and innovative way, whilst also being responsive to the educational and health needs of the local population.
Guys’ and St. Thomas’ Charity
Dr. Peter Jaye, King’s Health Partners Simulation Lead
Dr. Gabriel Reedy, King’s Health Partners Simulation Education Research Lead
*Academic Life in Emergency Medicine does not have any affiliations, financial or otherwise with Dr. Beth Thomas nor Hands Up for Health.