Historically, medical simulation has been used as a safe setting to consolidate pre-existing theoretical knowledge and put it into practice. It can be utilised to develop both practical knowledge and communication skills relating to the ‘human factors’ of clinical practice.1 Simulation training is more commonly employed to train practising clinicians and medical students approaching graduation. Our aim, however, was to use simulation training to impart theoretical knowledge to more junior medical students.
Twenty-three students in their first year of clinical medicine underwent six fifteen-minute scenarios, based on commonly seen medical and surgical emergencies. Each scenario was followed by 15 minutes of debriefing and teaching. A ‘pause and perfect’ style of facilitation was employed to aid students to progress through scenarios requiring a level of knowledge well beyond that expected of students in their first year of clinical medicine; performing advanced life support for example. As well as completing a satisfaction survey, students undertook a 105-point test both before and after the training. A paired T-test was then employed to test for knowledge gained by comparing group scores before and after the three hours of teaching.
Mean student test score increased from 51.4% at the start of the course to 90.7%. Students’ scores increased on average by 77% (95% confidence interval 68% to 83%). All students either agreed or strongly agreed that medical simulation is an effective was to learn new theoretical information and that they would like more simulation training in this context.
Our findings suggest that simulation training can an affective medium to impart large quantities of new theoretical knowledge to junior medical students. We would encourage more institutions to consider simulation as a method of teaching medical theory to junior students in addition to teaching practical knowledge.
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