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Ageing simulation for promoting empathy in medical students
  1. Shaun Qureshi1,
  2. Helen Jones2,
  3. June Adamson3,
  4. Olayinka A Ogundipe4
  1. 1Centre for Medical Education, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  2. 2Department of Medicine for the Elderly, Western General Hospital, Edinburgh, UK
  3. 3Education Centre, Victoria Hospital, Kirkcaldy, UK
  4. 4Department of Medicine for the Elderly, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Shaun Qureshi, Centre for Medical Education, University of Edinburgh, Chancellor's Building, Edinburgh EH164SB, UK; shaun.qureshi{at}

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Elderly patients have complex health needs and are vulnerable to inadequate or undignified treatment.1 Fostering professional and altruistic attitudes in medical education is necessary in order to prepare medical students for care of older patients.2 This paper describes a low-fidelity simulation session designed to increase empathy towards elderly patients among University of Edinburgh medical students. The session aims to enhance understanding of effects of age-related physical impairments on activities of daily living; how these impairments may challenge good clinical care and stimulate discussion about how these challenges may be mitigated. The session has been integrated into the Medicine of the Elderly teaching programme and here we describe it as delivered in NHS Fife, where the session has expanded to include a commercial age simulation suit3 to further enhance the learning experience.


The 90 min session accommodates six medical students and is facilitated by two tutors in the Education Centre, Victoria Hospital, Kirkcaldy. Initially, the students are introduced to the aims during a 10 min briefing, and safety aspects are discussed. The students are divided into groups: the first focus on mobility; the second on special senses, before switching over after 30 min. Finally, there is a 20 min debrief. The students are supervised at all times.


Each student has the opportunity to wear the simulation suit, consisting of a weighted vest, soft collar, straps and overshoes (see figure 1). The student is dressed in the components over her/his own attire by the other group members before carrying out tasks around the education centre: getting from seated to standing position; …

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  • Contributors SQ is the lead tutor for the ageing simulation sessions at Victoria Hospital, Kirkcaldy. The lesson concept and aims were passed on to him by HJ but he has subsequently developed the session more fully. The paper describes the simulation session as it has now been developed and designed by SQ for medical students attached to Medicine for the Elderly in Kirkcaldy. SQ was the principal author of this paper. HJ facilitated the ageing simulation session at Victoria Hospital, Kirkcaldy, prior to SQ, but not in the format described in this paper. HJ handed the project over to SQ. HJ has provided input into the writing of this paper. JA has been assisting SQ in the facilitating of these teaching sessions in Kirkcaldy. JA is in charge of maintaining the simulation suit described in the paper, and during the sessions principally assists with the ‘Mobility’ section. OAO is the module organiser for the final year University of Edinburgh students who are attached to Medicine of the Elderly and has had general oversight over this teaching project. OAO originally suggested running the simulation teaching session to HJ. OAO recommended writing a publication about the ageing simulation session. OAO has offered edits to this paper during re-drafting and also suggested keywords.

  • Funding This work received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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