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.
Their conclusions, published Sept. 7 in JAMA (the Journal of the American Medical Association), found that training with simulation is consistently better than no simulation instruction, as measured in controlled settings and in practice with actual patients.
“We can now conclude that simulation-based education can be an effective educational tool,” says Rose Hatala, a clinical associate professor in the UBC Department of Medicine. “However, it is important that we advance our understanding of how to use this resource effectively. That is the next step for our research team.”
The study found a lot of variation in the quality and results of the simulation activities, says lead author David Cook, of the Mayo Clinic’s Department of General Internal Medicine.
“We need more effective, more efficient, and safer ways to learn,” says Dr. Cook, citing the increasing volume of medical knowledge, rapidly changing practice environments and evolving physician-patient relationships. “Simulation-based instruction has unique advantages, including the opportunity to practice without harming patients, repeat training to become more proficient and structure training for more effective learning.”
Dr. Hatala and Dr. Cook also worked with researchers from the University of Ottawa and the University of Toronto.
“Not all training was equally effective,” Dr. Cook says. “Now that we know that simulation works, the next step is to understand how to use simulation-based instruction effectively and efficiently.”