Simulation Training–Time to Move On

A research team from the Mayo Clinic reports that simulation-based training is an effective way to teach physicians, nurses, dentists, emergency medical technicians and other health professionals–with no discernible improvement in patient outcomes.


The team reviewed more than 600 studies evaluating the use of technologies such as virtual reality computers, mannequins and training models to teach skills and procedures including surgery, trauma management, obstetrics and team communication.  They concluded that training with simulation is consistently better than no instruction and is effective across a wide variety of learners, learning contexts and clinical topics.

What this study did not show, however, was an improvement in patient outcomes.  This was due in part to an inability to statistically associate patient improvement with the simulation environment.  According to the authors, “We can’t prove cause-effect, but it seems plausible.”

I found this article interesting on two fronts:

1.  Not all the simulations required expensive, electronic equipment.  One instructor was able to successfully teach students the techniques of ultrasound-guided cyst aspiration using an olive embedded in a chicken breast.  Another instructor used a papaya to emulate a uterus in order to teach routine gynecologic care.   It’s good to see that there’s still room for creativity in clinical medicine!

2.  So, enough already.  It’s perfectly clear that simulation training improves learning outcomes.  Now let’s get busy and use some of those training grants to uncover how to use simulation training to improve patient outcomes!

Here’s the article abstract from JAMA:




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