Practical aspects of setting up obstetric skills laboratories--a literature review and proposed model

Midwifery. 2015 Apr;31(4):400-8. doi: 10.1016/j.midw.2014.11.010. Epub 2014 Dec 9.


Objective: the use of simulation training in obstetrics is an important strategy to improve health-care providers׳ competence to manage obstetric cases. As an increasing number of international programmes focus on simulation training, more information is needed about the practical aspects of planning for and organising skills laboratories.

Methods: systematic review of peer reviewed literature published between January 2000 and June 2014. Thematic summary of 31 papers meeting inclusion criteria.

Findings: skills laboratories need to reflect the clinical working environment and are ideally located at or near a health-care facility. A mix of low and high fidelity manikins combined with patient actors is recommended to be used with clear instructions, scenario setting and short lectures including audio-visual teaching aids. Motivated trainers are vital and a focus on 'team training' in smaller groups is beneficial. Practical information needed to set up and run a skills laboratory is provided with a proposed outline of a skills laboratory for obstetric simulation training.

Conclusions and implications for practice: obstetric skills laboratories can play a substantial role in increasing competency and confidence of staff via 'skills and drills' type training. When considering setting up skills laboratories, this can be simply done using low fidelity manikins in the first instance with training facilitated by motivated trainers using realistic clinical scenarios. Overall, the review findings highlight the need for better documentation of factors that promote and/or are barriers to the effective use of skills laboratories.

Synopsis: 31 papers detailing the planning and organisation of skills laboratories were reviewed in order to assess the factors necessary for their effectiveness and the vital role they play in increasing staff competencies. Setting up obstetric skills laboratories is worthwhile but requires in-depth planning.

Keywords: Obstetrics; Simulation centre; Simulation training; Skills laboratories.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence / standards*
  • Female
  • Health Personnel / education
  • Humans
  • Manikins
  • Obstetrics / education*
  • Patient Simulation*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications*