Wednesday, February 1

What are psychomotor skills and why it is important for nurses to develop them?

Acquiring new skills is a crucial part of any nursing course. Unfortunately, it is often neglected as more focus is placed on cognitive learning activities in nursing education. If you are an aspiring nurse, becoming competent in basic nursing skills is essential. It requires practice, commitment, and training. The performance of nurses is often measured by how well they adhere to the basic principles of efficiency, precision, accuracy, correct sequence, and safe technique.

There are many essential psychomotor skills in nursing such as performing assessments, administering intramuscular or subcutaneous injections, putting in IV lines, taking blood pressure, and mixing insulins in a syringe that new nurses are expected to learn. To advance in these areas, you will need to devote a lot of effort and time.

What are psychomotor skills?

Psychomotor learning refers to the relationship between physical movement and cognitive function. It involves the demonstration of various physical skills like speed, strength, grace, dexterity, coordination, and movement. These actions demonstrate a nurse’s fine motor skills like using precision tools or instruments and gross motor skills. For nursing professionals, it is important to learn psychomotor skills to provide better care to patients. These skills are also useful when caring for elderly patients in the healthcare setting.  

Psychomotor skills are mainly movement-oriented skills. The performance of these skills involves neuromuscular coordination. Psychomotor skills are a crucial part of healthcare and nursing practice. These skills are used in the assessment of patients as well as when implementing care. When teaching psychomotor skills, emphasis is generally placed on movements. However, performing these skills in practice requires the integration of values and knowledge. Motor skills usually have a cognitive base. It involves an affective dimension reflecting the values of the nurse, their concern for the patient while a procedure is performed, and their demonstration of respect for their patients. Learning these values and knowledge base is just as important as learning the skills to promote the development of psychomotor skills.

Psychomotor learning is a part of three broad categories in educational behaviors. It is based on physical or manual skills and includes movement, coordination, and dexterity. The focus is on kinesthetic and physical forms of learning. The domain can also involve other skills such as communication skills that support these physical skills.

What is involved in learning psychomotor skills?

We begin developing motor skills at a young age. While the skills are new, an individual needs to think before acting so the movements can be quite sloppy. In the next stage, the individual spends less time thinking about the action so actions are faster, but they are still uncoordinated. In the last stage, the skills are refined. When learning psychomotor skills, nurses need to go through five levels of advancement to achieve complete mastery of a skill.

  • Imitation: observing a demonstration and copying it under the close supervision of a professional.
  • Manipulation: following the instructions and then practicing them repeatedly.
  • Precision: independently and competently performing the skill with few errors.
  • Articulation: modifying and coordinating the skills.
  • Naturalization: automatically performing the skill at a consistent level and with ease.

Skill performance starts at a basic level and then progresses to a higher level to develop intricate skills. Nursing students are required to master one stage before they can progress to the next one.

Psychomotor skills in nursing 

Learning psychomotor skills will be a fundamental part of any nursing program, such as the one offered by Baylor University Online. This intensive program utilizes a combination of interactive learning, lab, clinical experiences, and online courses to ensure you master the skills needed to become a competent nurse. Some of the most common psychomotor skills you will learn as a nurse are:

  • Vital signs 

For any nurse, it is crucial to know and understand the vital signs. Respiratory rate, blood pressure, body temperature, and pulse rate are physiological statistics that provide information about the functioning of a body. Understanding these signs is a part of the basic training in nursing for psychomotor skills. Nurses need to measure these vital signs and spot any impairment so they can help rectify them quickly.

  • Basic hygiene 

When patients lose their own psychomotor skills, they may begin compromising on basic hygiene. Disinfecting wounds when needed, wearing clean clothes, keeping the surroundings clean, and washing hands regularly may get neglected. Nurses need to step in and ensure these basic hygiene rules are followed.  

  • Routine care 

Patients in long-term care homes may have retarded motor skills. They may often fail to perform routine activities. Nurses need to be competent with activities of routine care such as oral care, nose, and ear care, eye care, foot care, and bathing their patients. When looking after these patients it is also important to ensure their safety. Nurses are also required to help patients cope with disabilities, ensuring their safety, helping them stay active, and doing other daily activities.

  • Administering injections

In nursing, psychomotor skills also involve helping patients with their injections. Many patients may be dependent on insulin and need to take injections every day. Due to retarded psychomotor skills, many of these patients need help. Caring for those with neurological defects, neonatal care, and post-operative care are all important parts of nursing. New nurses can learn these skills in various ways. Other than learning them as a part of their formal education, they can also observe experienced nurses performing these skills. Observing those who have experience providing help and then imitating their actions is a great way of learning.

Studying and practicing psychomotor skills consistently can help nurses perform better. Once they are confident about their newly acquired skills, they can modify them to suit the requirements of each patient. When it comes to patient treatment, it is important to remember that every patient is different. Nurses have to change their approach frequently. They need to perform the same task differently for each patient to ensure it meets their specific needs. Developing and refining psychomotor skills will help you deliver better quality care to patients.