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A learning activity was developed with the intention of teaching suturing to nurse practitioner students. Deliberate practice was paired with reciprocal peer teaching (RPT) to produce an environment of active learning while achieving the learning objectives. Deliberate practice is the process of repetitive practice with prompt feedback and correction; the skill is repeated with the goal of achieving expertise through practice. Principles of deliberate practice do not require that the instructor be the one providing the feedback. With this in mind, students were encouraged to observe and assist one another in the process of skill acquisition. This technique, referred to as RPT, has shown positive outcomes in nursing education. It promotes increased student engagement by assigning the students an active role in the learning activity. During the suturing activity, students engaged in deliberate practice, without being prompted to do so. They sought the input of their peers on the correctness of their technique and execution and were forthcoming in observations of their partners. Furthermore, students increased their confidence in the skill. Offering direction to each other enhanced student understanding and confidence in their personal ability to execute the skill. With each suture placed, the amount of required peer guidance decreased, but the quality of the skill increased.


By Kristi Maynard, MSN, APRN, FNP-BC, Assistant Professor, Southern Connecticut State University, and Practicing Family Nurse Practitioner (