Simulation in undergraduate medical education: bridging the gap between theory and practice

Jennifer M Weller
Medical Education 2004, 38 (1): 32-8

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the use of simulation-based teaching in the medical undergraduate curriculum in the context of management of medical emergencies, using a medium fidelity simulator.

DESIGN: Small groups of medical students attended a simulation workshop on management of medical emergencies. The workshop was evaluated in a post-course questionnaire.

SUBJECTS: All Year 4 medical students allocated to the resuscitation rotation during the first half of 2002.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Student perceptions of learning outcomes, the value of the simulation in the undergraduate curriculum and their self-assessed improved mastery of workshop material.

RESULTS: A total of 33 students attended the workshop and all completed questionnaires. Students rated the workshop highly and found it a valuable learning experience. In all, 21 (64%) students identified teamwork skills as key learning points; 11 (33%) felt they had learnt how to approach a problem better, particularly in terms of using a systematic approach, and 12 (36%) felt they had learnt how to apply their theoretical knowledge in a clinical setting better. All 33 students were positive about the use of simulation in their training; 14 students wrote that simulation should be used more or should be mandatory in training; 5 students commented positively on the realism of the learning experience and a further 5 said they valued the opportunity to learn new skills in a safe environment.

CONCLUSION: This study demonstrates that medical students value simulation-based learning highly. In particular, they value the opportunity to apply their theoretical knowledge in a safe and realistic setting, to develop teamwork skills and to develop a systematic approach to a problem. A medium fidelity simulator is a valuable educational tool in medical undergraduate education.

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