How should we teach undergraduates in simulation scenarios?

Amit Parekh, Tricia Thorpe
Clinical Teacher 2012, 9 (5): 280-4

BACKGROUND: Simulation is increasingly used by medical schools to prepare final-year undergraduates for foundation year 1. But how should clinical teachers be delivering these simulation sessions to maximise the benefit to students? We sought to evaluate our own final-year simulation course, which uses two different styles of simulation, to identify the most effective method of practically delivering simulation-based teaching to final-year undergraduates.

CONTEXT: Bristol Medical School recently introduced a new simulation course for final-year undergraduates. The course ran across two hospital sites. At hospital A, the students experienced real-time scenarios followed by brief feedback, whereas at hospital B, 'condensed' simulations were followed by longer feedback with teaching points. All students completed feedback questionnaires after each session, and seven students participated in a focus group.

INNOVATION: Students felt that both styles of simulation equally achieved the objectives set by the Bristol Medical School, but also that each method had different strengths that added something very valuable to the learning experience. Students appreciated the detailed feedback they received in the condensed simulation sessions because it helped them to identify key improvements. The real-time simulation encouraged experiential learning and gave students an idea of the issues involved in real-life emergency situations. Students also enjoyed the role-play element in the real-time simulation.

IMPLICATIONS: The two different styles of simulation complement each other, and together provide a richer learning experience for students. We suggest that clinical teachers may wish to consider varying their styles of simulation teaching so as to maximise students' learning.

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