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Nursing students experience courtroom drama

27th September 2019

Nursing students at Northumbria University have the chance to gain unique insight into the legal aspects of a career in nursing thanks to an innovative teaching programme.

As part of the BSc (Hons) Nursing degree, third year students have, for the first time, observed a mock courtroom trial to allow them to experience what is involved in medically-based legal proceedings.

The programme was instigated by Dr Melanie Fisher, a senior lecturer in Northumbria’s Department of Nursing, Midwifery and Health. 

Dr Fisher is an experienced nurse, clinician and academic with a particular interest in medical law, patient safety and human factors that can influence patient care. She approached Irwin Mitchell solicitors to help develop a legally robust and realistic scenario relating to legal proceedings around a patient death that could be delivered in a courtroom environment.

Presided over by a Judge and argued by two trained solicitors, students were able to observe the processes involved in prosecuting and defending such cases.

Dr Fisher said: “Working with Irwin Mitchell, we developed a scenario that involved a death, which was alleged to have been the result of sub-optimal care.

“Expert witnesses were called throughout and professionally produced evidence offered to the mock court, which allowed students to see and think about some of the issues that can arise for those working in the medical and nursing environments.

“The module brought to life the importance of key aspects of working in this field, including the impact and consequences of poor record keeping and not following processes and policy.”

Dr Fisher said the session was filmed for use in future lectures and will be delivered to students using a pause and tell approach, enabling analysis and discussion as well as allowing students to reflect on their own practice.

She added: “Educating students to become professionals who are ready and able to practice in all aspects of their work when they graduate is an important component of preparing our students for successful careers.”

Anyone interested in studying Nursing at Northumbria University can find out more at or register to attend our forthcoming open days in September, October and November.

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