Hospital escape room experience to boost skills

Tuesday, 28 May, 2024

Hospital escape room experience to boost skills

Fluorescent hospital lights, a post-operative patient monitored by machines and an anxious medical team waiting to sign off the successful procedure. But something’s missing and until it’s found no one can leave the room.

Accounting for surgical items is a real-life scenario faced by medical teams every day, so with an aim to strengthen nursing skills, the University of South Australia has introduced the escape room experience.

The immersive, fun adventure game sees players ‘locked’ in a room. They must solve a series of puzzles and riddles using clues, hints and strategy to complete the objectives and ultimately escape within a set time limit.

The 45-minute educational experience — ‘Escape from the Operating Room’ — is designed for postgraduate perioperative nurses to sharpen their skills and enhance their understanding of complex nursing concepts.

Set in a real-world operating room scenario, students participate as a ‘theatre team’ where they work together to solve a series of challenges and escape. There are six challenges, each relating to an aspect of perioperative nursing practice that aligns with the Australian College of Perioperative Nurses standards.

UniSA’s Dr Michelle Freeling, escape room designer and nursing lecturer, said the experience presents a unique opportunity for perioperative nurses to improve their skills, while working as a team and under pressure — all essential elements of safe, competent patient care.

“Healthcare environments can be stressful, especially for new nurses. Escape rooms simulate high-pressure situations, so they enable students to practise under stress, but within a secure and controlled low-stakes environment,” Freeling said.

“Escape rooms are used internationally across healthcare education and are known to improve students’ understanding of complex nursing concepts, as well as their ability to prioritise, build resilience and develop coping strategies.

“They can also build team communication, coordination and confidence, all of which are vital for positive patient outcomes and interprofessional collaboration.

“The hands-on nature of an escape room allows students to apply concepts that they have learnt in online lessons, reinforcing their knowledge and practising them in a ‘real’ scenario’.

“By actively participating in simulations, students build confidence and can retain and internalise knowledge more effectively so that they can transfer it to the real world.”

The experience is part of UniSA’s Perioperative Nursing course and part of the Clinical Specialisation Program, developed through a partnership with SA Health.

UniSA’s Dr Allison Roderick, Program Director for Postgraduate Nursing & Midwifery, said the escape room experience is part of a wide range of courses that focus on upskilling and reinvigorating South Australia’s frontline health workers.

“The Perioperative Nursing course — which includes the ‘Escape from the Operating Room’ experience — is available to all registered nurses and is delivered fully online to enable flexible learning opportunities around busy shift work schedules,” Roderick said.

“Those who commence this course are usually registered nurses already working in perioperative settings, but it can also cater to those looking to commence their journey into perioperative nursing.

“At UniSA, we’re committed to providing first-class education opportunities that enhance our local frontline workforce. The escape room is an exemplar of just this and we look forward to sharing this unique educational experience across the health sector.”

Beyond the initial escape room experience, the UniSA nursing team hopes to expand the program across other nursing areas both at university and across the public and private sector.

Video supplied by UniSA.

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