A Guide to Clinical Skills for Health Students

Susan Shaw, Wendy Horne, Duncan Reid, Kirk Reed

A Guide to Clinical Skills for Health Students

Susan Shaw, Wendy Horne, Duncan Reid, Kirk Reed






11 Jan 2017




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The learning of clinical skills is an important part of health professional education and often one of the most stressful and confusing elements of the student journey. A Guide to Clinical Skills for Health Students is designed to be a trusted guidebook for students in Aotearoa New Zealand studying across a range of clinical health degrees.

This book outlines the context of professional practice, summarises key skills, presents supporting information about relevant practice, identifies references to guide further learning, and provides tools for recording clinical learning and professional development. At its heart is a focus on people, and the role that health professionals play in delivering quality assessment and care.

It begins with an overview of cultural and professional elements of practice. Real examples are presented to contextualise practice, and key language and concepts are outlined in recognition of the need for practitioners to share some basic understandings to assist communication among colleagues and with clients. Clinical skills from Section Two of the book are indicated for each character.

The second section of the book is presented in table format and provides brief guidance on skills that students are likely to encounter in clinical practice. This guidance has been developed with educators from the clinical programmes offered at Auckland University of Technology (AUT) and Unitec Institute of Technology and practitioners from the Auckland and Waitemata District Health Boards. The disciplines that have directly contributed are nursing, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, podiatry, osteopathy, dental therapy and hygiene, and paramedicine.


  • Brings together the basics of anatomy and assessment and combines it with the clinical skills necessary for practice
  • Structured to build on learning and skill development, starting at basic level and progressing to clinical skills covered in more detail
  • Tools that students may use to record their learning and develop their professional portfolios, include: templates for reflection, logging skills, recording skills, a skill development plan and recording learning against professional competencies, are included in the appendix.
  • Relevance to a range of health professionals encourages development of inter-disciplinary understanding


SECTION 1: Professional Interprofessional Practice

1. Cultural and professional contexts

2. Examples from practice

3. Key language and concepts

4. Practical learning

SECTION 2: Clinical Skills Guidelines

5. Professional practice

6. Infection control and safety

7. Cardiorespiratory and vascular

8. Neurological/sensory and vascular

9. Musculoskeletal

10. Mental and cognitive

11. Integumentary

12. Gastrointestinal

13. Genitourinary

14. Medication administration


Learning Records and Tools:

  • Reflection template
  • Skills log
  • Record of skills
  • Skills development plans and evaluation
  • Orofessional competencies
  • Answers to chapter 3 review questions




Susan Shaw is the Associate Dean (Academic) in the Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences at Auckland University of Technology

Wendy Horne is the Executive Dean in the Health Sciences at Unitec Institute of Technology

Duncan Reid is an Associate Dean in the School of Health Sciences at Auckland University of Technology

Kirk Reed is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Health Sciences at  Auckland University of Technology