Introduction As healthcare education has continued to develop, simulation has become a dependable component of the ever increasing range of techniques employed by institutions in order to deliver programmes that meet student need. With advancements in equipment and processes allowing for a greater level of simulated activity to take place there has been a clear push towards the evolution of large scale simulation centres. This can be seen in the majority of Universities delivering healthcare programmes and is intended to support and prepare students for the diversification found in today’s healthcare environment. We set out to ascertain whether students perceive the use of one such simulation centre as being a productive and valuable learning environment for them and their development.
Methodology Focusing on the Paramedic Science programme at one London University and its newly established simulation centre we approached all current Foundation Degree and Bachelor of Science cohorts (7). Through the use of an online questionnaire containing a series of questioning styles all 187 students were asked how they perceived the value, impact and sustainability of the simulation centre in regards to their programme. The resulting data were analysed to identify their views around how areas of the programme benefited from the use of the simulation centre and how this may be improved.
Results Upon closure of the questionnaire just 33 students had responded (17.6%). Of the respondents the majority (93.33%) rated the simulation centre highly for its value as part of their programme due to the varied learning opportunities. This was supported by the views expressed around how its use impacted positively on key subject matter, namely interpersonal skills (64%) and life support techniques (80%). However, the areas around varying frameworks and pathways (e.g., Mental Health) were not seen as benefitting from the use of simulation. Despite this students (94.17%) still sought to continue using the centre and advocated its increased use by both students and lecturers.
Conclusions Simulation as part of healthcare education has already been championed and the development of dedicated simulation centres seems to be the natural progression, but it is imperative that this developing technology is clearly aligned to the programme objectives. A balance must be met whereby simulation is effectively integrated into the programme and not just used because it is available, as this approach can often cause the learning environment to falter and the students therein to lose focus of the overall aim.
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