Clinical Skills Development

There are so many factors that will influence the development of your clinical skills in your first year as a registered practitioner. You will need to develop new skills as well as looking at the skills you have and how they can be used and developed in your new role.

You should revisit this section as your skills develop, as it will help you to re-focus throughout the year. This is especially important if you are in a rotational post.

Orientation to equipment

This activity can be split into 3 stages - each of the activities and then reflection.

During your orientation and in developing in your role, you may be asked to operate unfamiliar equipment.

1.   Make a list of equipment that you are required to use in your work area.

Identify equipment that you;

  • have encountered before and feel competent using
  • are unfamiliar with or are not confident using
  • any that you need to refresh your skills using

2.   Where you do not feel competent, ask a more experienced member of staff to orientate you to the equipment, help you locate the relevant instructions or guidance, or access training.

3.   Reflect on what you know and need, and see how you can ensure that you maintain your competence with equipment that you need to use in your work.

Record any learning you have completed and your reflections in your portfolio and record your experience in using this equipment.

Safety with medicines

Errors in the administration of medications can cause serious harm to patients/clients - think of some of the news coverage you have seen about this subject.

One of the common errors made is in the calculation of medication doses. However, there are many other sources of errors in the prescribing, dispensing and administering chain.

If your role includes making medication dose calculations, are you confident in your skills?

You will be aware of your professional regulator's standards from your undergraduate experience and may want to review these, or the specific aspects that are more pertinent to your work.


Safe practice: HAI

All staff in NHSScotland have a role in preventing Healthcare Associated Infection (HAI) and this should be covered in your orientation and induction. However, there may be areas that you need to know more about for your specific role, or may have learned about previously that you want to review or keep up to date with.

The NES HAI online short courses webpage contains links to courses on specific aspects of HAI. Identify and record courses that will help you meet your learning needs. Record them and include them in your discussion with your mentor/KSF reviewer and your PDP. Agree which you should complete and set up a timeframe for doing this.

The following websites will give you general information to ensure you are keeping up to date with safe practice and HAI:

Take some time to review what is there and any specific content that is particularly relevant to your role.

Your work on this activity can provide robust evidence for your KSF review. Remember that evidence for your Flying Start portfolio can transfer across to KSF and your portfolio for HCPC or NMC.

What clinical skills do you need?

During your orientation and in developing in your role, you will be introduced to the work that you will be expected to carry out in your new role. This work will require a wide range of skills and you will already have some of these from your experience as a student or other experiences that you have.

Using information from a variety of sources, identify and record the specific clinical skills that you will be required to use in your work.

You can use information from your job description, knowledge of the role, and discussion with your mentor.

There are also general and specific frameworks that have been designed to support the development of healthcare professionals in different roles. You can find out about information that is specific to your role from your colleagues.

Identify and record the skills that you have already developed and feel competent in, any that you need to refresh your skills in, and those that you are unfamiliar with or are not confident using and may need to focus on.

Mentor activity

In discussion with your mentor, review the list of skills that you have compiled in the previous activity. Identify how you will ensure that your clinical skill development meets national needs, standards and your competence as a practitioner.

Begin to develop an action plan detailing:

  • the skills needed
  • your competence, and learning or refreshment needs
  • actions you can take to develop your specific skills and realistic timeframes for developing your skills

It may well be that a competency framework exists for aspects of your work or professional group - this can become the template that you follow in your Flying Start NHS® year. Alternatively, you may decide with your mentor that you will build up your skills and experience in a planned way over the course of this year for example gradually increasing the complexity of cases you deal with.

You will find the following resources useful;

Portfolio - clinical skills development

In this section you have identified clinical skills and possibly other learning needs. You will need to meet these needs in order for you to carry out your post safely and effectively.

Record what you have learned in this section or include your notes in your portfolio.

Use the information you have gathered completing this section to compile an action plan to help guide you in developing your skills in the following way.

  • the skills needed
  • your competence and learning or refreshment needs
  • actions you can take to develop your specific skills
  • realistic timeframes for developing your skills

Include the key points from the Personal development plan that you have agreed with your NHS KSF reviewer in relation to these skills for the next 6 months.

Also incorporate any competency-based frameworks that apply or other means of recording achievement within your portfolio.

Remember that whatever you develop as an action plan must fit into your NHS KSF development review cycle.

Reflective Practice can provide tips and frameworks for creating portfolio entries. Why not experiment with a couple of different styles to help you find out what suits you best?

Add an alert to your Flying Start NHS® portfolio and /or make a date in your diary to revisit Clinical Skills Development.