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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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