Simulation & Medical Education

Simulation has it roots in aviation training and can trace it origins to the 1920’s. Over the last 90 years simulation has been used in aviation, military training & planning, medical education, and for entertainment.

Modern simulation encompasses a wide-range of modalities each of which has it’s own benefits and limitations. Some simulation modalities include:

  • Theoretical Case / Scenario Discussion
  • Mannikin Based
  • Skill Trainer
  • Simulated / Standardised Patient
  • Electronic Virtual Environments
  • Using Animal / Cadaveric Specimens
  • All of the above can be of varying fidelity

Not only can simulation take different forms but it can also be used to focus on single, or multiple skills, including:

  • Clinical Assessment & Management
  • Communication
  • Team Work
  • Crisis Resource Management
  • Procedural or Clinical Skill based

Considerations when setting-up and developing simulation resources include:

  • Learning Objectives / Goals
  • Scenario Design
  • Participants
  • Equipment
  • Faculty
  • Formative vs Summative Outcome Measure
  • Debrief
  • Time / Space / Cost

Some pro’s and con’s of simulation:


  • ‘Safe’ environment in the event of error
  • Allows practice of uncommon, or demanding, clinical scenarios e.g. paediatric ALS
  • Multidisciplinary participants
  • Development / assessment of non-clinical skills e.g. teamwork communication
  • Maintain clinical skills e.g. BLS / ALS
  • Range of fidelity options available e.g. ALSi iSimulate, SimMan 3G


  • Suspension of disbelief
      • Participants need to immerse themselves in a ‘not real’ environment
  • Simulated performance/skill does not ensure same performance in real scenario
  • Debriefing essential for educational gain
      • Requires experienced / trained faculty
  • Some learners find simulation confronting, can be emotionally distressing
  • Difficult to standardise learning outcomes across, and within groups
  • Resource intensive
      • Equipment, space, staff, faculty








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