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High-fidelity simulation and virtual reality: an evaluation of medical students’ experiences


Background Simulation technology is widely used in medical education, providing an environment in which students can develop and practise a multitude of skills that are relevant to clinical practice, without the risk of harm to patients.

Methods We conducted a mixed methods cross-over study with quantitative and qualitative outcomes. This analysed students’ perceptions of two simulation technologies: a high-fidelity patient simulator and virtual reality. Twenty final year medical students completed a questionnaire after having experienced both simulation modalities.

Results Students scored the patient simulator higher in domains such as developing team working and ‘ABCDE assessment skills’, whereas the virtual reality simulation was more immersive and fun. Participants found the patient simulator more useful in preparing them for clinical practice.

Conclusion Medical students in this study expressed that a high-fidelity patient simulator, in a simulated clinical environment, was of greater value to their preparation for clinical practice than virtual reality simulation of a similar environment. However, the virtual reality simulation offered a near comparable experience, and was found to be was enjoyable, immersive and easily portable.

  • simulation-based medical education
  • simulation
  • medical education research
  • virtual reality
  • high fidelity simulation

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request. A summary of our research results is provided in the article. Additional data that are currently held by the authors of the article include the full breakdown of all results, qualitative comments and the research protocol.

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