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The University of Southampton

HLTH6195 Assessment and Examination of the Newborn

Module Overview

This module has been developed to prepare experienced professionals to undertake assessment and examination of the newborn and also the standards aligned to the NHS newborn and infant physical examination (NIPE) programme.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Use your communication and advanced clinical skills to obtain, record, interpret and evaluate the significance of a comprehensive physical and psycho-social health history of a neonate and their family.
  • Working within your scope of practice conduct a detailed and thorough systematic, clinical, and physical examination of the newborn using your diagnostic capabilities to recognise deviations from the normal and actual or potential risk factors.
  • Critically evaluate and integrate the clinical information and other evidence obtained in order to inform management decisions and the longer term health promotion of the neonate and his/her family.
  • Articulate and justify your findings and management plans to parents and other members of the multi-disciplinary team.
  • Demonstrate your knowledge and awareness of when referral to others is required and of the appropriate mechanisms for referral.
  • Critically consider your broadened level of responsibility and accountability as a clinician able to undertake Newborn and Infant Physical Examinations. This will allow you to demonstrate your clinical judgement both when working autonomously within the boundaries of your scope of professional practice and collaboratively within the multi-professional team.


The syllabus is underpinned and informed by current evidence relating to examination of the newborn. This includes the latest guidelines and evidence produced by the NHS Newborn and Infant Physical Examination (NIPE) Programme and any screening recommendations from the UK National Screening Committee (UKNSC). The NIPE benchmarking standards for the newborn examination have been integrated within the syllabus. Core content will include: * Fetal development and assessment of the transitional events in the neonatal period. * Applied pathophysiology of specific body systems. * Principles of obtaining and recording a comprehensive history * Normal morphology of the newborn and deviations from normal. * Birth trauma * Normal biochemical, haematological and microbiological values * Detailed comprehensive clinical & physical assessment and examination of the newborn related to all body systems and including orthopaedics, ophthalmology and dermatology * Neurological assessment of the newborn * Psycho-social assessment of the needs of the neonate and their family * Nutritional assessment and requirements of the healthy newborn * NIPE standards and neonatal screening * An introduction to problem solving and diagnostic reasoning for babies on the postnatal ward. * Discussion and evaluation of current evidence and policies relating to the identification, assessment and management of sepsis * Discharge process * Communication with parents regarding health education and immunisations * Record keeping and referral systems * Professional autonomy and accountability and exploration of the legal, professional and ethical issues relating to the changing role boundaries in professional practice. * Critical consideration of the evidence base underpinning examination of the newborn

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

A variety of learning and teaching methods may be used including: * a self-directed pre-module Basic Science learning package which enables you to review and develop your basic science foundation prior to the start of the module. This learning will provide the underpinning knowledge on which the module syllabus will be based. It is recommended that you study between 2-4 hours per week for 12 weeks and that you ensure that you have covered the learning outcomes that are linked to each of the 12 weeks. In addition there are key physiology references that provide the opportunity for you to broaden and deepen your knowledge base. * lectures- specialist subject lecturers will enable you to acquire a breadth and depth of appropriate clinically knowledge and experience * small group tutorials * online resources including listening to heart sounds, examination of the neurological system, quizzes and Blackboard * recommended key physiology podcasts * practical sessions including the use of ophthalmoscopes and hip models * video and slide sets focussed on examination of the newborn * clinical group discussions facilitated by experienced neonatal practitioners * problem-based case scenarios where you will have the opportunity to discuss and explore cases both within groups and individually. These sessions will provide the opportunity for you to demonstrate your integration of knowledge, understanding and clinical experience. In addition your clinical mentor will receive a specifically developed mentorship guideline booklet, including assessment documentation, which will clearly outline the role and responsibilities of a mentor with regard to clinical learning and teaching in clinical practice. In this context you will have the opportunity to learn from and with your mentor the skills required to undertake this role. This will not only include the physical examination but also key transferable skills such as communication, problem solving and collaborative working within the multi-disciplinary team.

Independent Study215
Total study time250

Resources & Reading list

Flannigan C (2011). Managing paediatric problems on the post natal wards. 

Newborn and infant physical examination screening: education and training.

Tappero, E.P. and Honeyfield, M.E. (2018). Physical Assessment of the Newborn: A Comprehensive Approach to the Art of Physical Examination,. 

Neonatal infection (early onset): antibiotics for prevention and treatment.

Examination of the Newborn.

Lomas A (2011). Examination of the Newborn - An evidence-based guide. 

NHS population screening: education and training.

The Auscultation Assistant.


Assessment Strategy

Prior to the start of the module you will be expected to sit a formative multiple choice exam based on the Pre-Course Basic Science Package. The aim of the exam is for you and the module lead to identify any possible areas that may need further development prior to the start of the module. Having taken the exam you will receive individual focussed feedback on your performance and there will then be the opportunity for you to continue working on the package until the start of the module. The summative assessment includes a 2 hour exam which comprises of essay and short answer questions. This exam accounts for 100% of the module mark and is mapped against all the learning outcomes. In addition you will need to have completed 40 newborn examinations on healthy neonates under the supervision of your clinical mentor. The first 10 will normally be demonstrated by your mentor, the next 25 will normally be under the supervision of your mentor and the final 5 will be assessed and graded by your mentor. You will need to demonstrate 'competence' in at least 5 examinations.


Multiple choice Test


MethodPercentage contribution
Assessments of Clinical Competence  ()
Exam  (2 hours) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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