1. Oermann, Marilyn H. PhD, RN, ANEF, FAAN

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Are students in your nursing program competent in performing psychomotor skills? It may be that we are not providing sufficient practice for students to develop their competency. In learning a motor skill, students first need to understand the skill and how to perform it accurately. To gain proficiency, they have to practice it and receive feedback to correct any errors. With practice, students learn to do it more quickly. Movements become more consistent.1 Further practice enables them to perform the skill without thinking through each step. If students do not use or practice a skill after their initial instruction in the laboratory, it is unlikely they will retain it particularly as time goes on. We need to integrate practice of essential psychomotor skills in simulations, clinical practice, and laboratory experiences throughout the curriculum. This will help students retain their skills and become more competent in performing them. Consider using dyad practice in which students alternate between observing and physically practicing the skill. When students observe their partner performing the skill, they gain insight into aspects of the skill that are difficult to notice when doing it themselves.2 Dyad practice can improve performance and retention, and it is efficient (2 students at a time).


Submitted by: Marilyn H. Oermann, PhD, RN, ANEF, FAAN, Editor-in-Chief,




1. Schmidt RA, Lee TD. Motor Control and Learning: A Behavioral Emphasis. 4th ed. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics; 2005. [Context Link]


2. Granados C, Wulf G. Enhancing motor learning through dyad practice: contributions of observation and dialogue. Res Q Exerc Sport. 2007; 78(3): 197-203. [Context Link]