Teaching with high-fidelity human simulators has traditionally been focussed on developing skills for the healthcare professions and we have previously shown that simulation can also be effectively used to teach the basic biomedical sciences.1 Here we show that simulation can be used to engage school pupils during university visits to inspire and inform about potential future study and careers related to the basic biomedical sciences and health-care professions. We use simulation in a number of different ways to enhance our outreach programmes comprising laboratory visits and presentations. These visits include residential summer schools for under-represented groups in higher education, laboratory visits by local schools, and university open days, where the simulation sessions are especially popular with prospective medical students. Simulations take the form of a short 30–45 minute interactive ‘show and tell’ sessions run by an academic experienced in simulation teaching with small groups (<20) of school pupils. A typical session begins by explaining the history and capabilities of human simulators before demonstrating key aspects of functionality such as measuring ECG and breathing rate, moving on to a simple healthcare scenario such as an asthmatic patient or a patient suffering from a cardiac arrhythmia. The underlying physiology is emphasised. Pupils are encouraged to interact throughout the session by taking physical measurements from the simulator and recording data obtained through the waveform display on worksheets. In addition, we also use simulation in more informal settings, such as during ‘drop-in’ sessions at university open days where parents and prospective students are able to interact at their own pace. Visits to the university that involve simulation receive overwhelmingly positive feedback from visitors and it is seen as a flagship aspect of our outreach programmes.
Harris J, Helyer R, Llloyd E. Med Educ 2011;45:1159–1160.
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