‘I am a STAR’. Swansea University lecturers develop new mnemonic for students undertaking patient examination

Published in the Mental Health Journal (September 2017)

I AM  a star workshop

Image: Swansea University Nursing students' workshop

College of Human and Health Sciences Nursing Lecturers; Beryl Mansel and Keith Bradley-Adams have developed an easy-to-recall mnemonic ‘I AM A STAR’ to help undergraduate mental health nursing students remember the components of a fundamental observational assessment in mental health nursing, the mental state examination (MSE).

This article, published in the Mental Health Journal describes an MSE teaching workshop that used the 'I AM A STAR' mnemonic and observational simulation. The teaching workshop was innovative, creative and engaging for students, and well evaluated.

Nurse lecturers should aim to create learning experiences that link theory and practice. The Nursing and Midwifery Council suggests that educational programmes designed to prepare nurses for practice should offer a flexible, blended approach to learning, and should draw on the full range of modern learning methods and modes of delivery. Simulation is recommended as a useful teaching and learning method to help facilitate the link between theory and practice.

Acronyms and mnemonics are common aidememoires in nursing and can enhance students’ ability to remember the stages or components of a model (Gibson 2009). The authors propose that the easy-to-recall mnemonic ‘I AM A STAR’ may help mental health nursing students to remember the components of the mental state examination. 

Beryl Mansel, Mental Health Nurse Lecturer comments, ‘As a result of the role-play workshop we are delighted that the students report confidence in applying the framework in clinical practice’.