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By Dan Limmer

Lab skills are essential for any EMS course. Yet labs can drift into inefficiency or irrelevancy if we aren’t careful. How can you make your skills experience more efficient and reliable?

Here we’ll talk about some of the common pitfalls of lab stations and how to fix them.

Click to download the EMS lab sign set

Educators in Lab Stations

The Lecturer

This lab instructor is a frustrated educator. They want to teach—and they do too much of it in the lab station. Instead of having students practice, this educator provides the lecture they already received in class.

The War Story

A subset of the lecturer, this educator spends valuable time talking about the latest and greatest calls to provide awe and wonder to your students—sadly, without much practice.

Set expectations that students will practice a skill so many times during a session.

Talking instead of practicing has been a lab problem for as long as we’ve had skills labs. How do we fix this? Set expectations that students will practice a skill so many times during a session. This gives a direction to students and staff that practice is important. Make sure faculty recognizes the importance of doing over talking. And if an educator feels they have a lecture in them, give them a chance. It is always great to build your team.

Students in Lab Stations

The Distraction

Students have always been distracted in labs—and phones have made this even worse.

A no phone policy in labs is prudent. Limiting conversation between students is also prudent—but much more difficult to enforce. Discipline is part of the solution, but not all of it. Many believe that involving students – even when they aren’t actually performing a skill –  by evaluating or assisting helps both learning and engagement.

The Unmotivated

While we value our intrinsic learners (the sponges), not everyone has that drive. At least initially. Sometimes it is a bad day (or night), coming from shift directly to class, or perhaps an attitude issue.

We’d like to help in this regard. We’ve created six motivational signs to post in your lab rooms. While we can’t guarantee we will turn around every unmotivated student, these are a good reminder about how important skills are—and your lab staff can point them out from time to time to reinforce these principles. The messages in the sign include:

  • Have you been team leader today?
  • On your first EMS call you’ll be happy you practiced today.
  • It’s time to get involved.
  • There is ALWAYS time for more practice.
  • Down time is lost time. Do that skill one more time.
  • You learn better when you are doing.

We believe these reminders will look stand out in your lab stations to remind both students and educators what is important.

Here’s to great skills instruction.

Download Lab Sign Set

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