Medical education simulations: of limited use?

December 1, 2005

lWhile simulations are widely used in medical education, a recent review of the literature finds that they facilitate learning only when they fulfill four criteria.

While simulations are widely used in medical education, a recent review of the literature finds that they facilitate learning only when they fulfill four criteria. In order of importance, they must: provide educational feedback; provide opportunities for repetitive practice; be effectively integrated into the larger educational curriculum; and provide a range of difficulty.

Researchers extracted the information from 109 journal articles, the quality of which they deemed to be generally weak. Other less important factors noted were that simulations provide multiple learning strategies, capture clinical variation, be used in a controlled environment, provide for individualized learning, clearly define outcome measures, and provide for simulator validity.

Issenberg SB, McGaghie WC, Petrusa ER, et al. Features and uses of high-fidelity medical simulations that lead to effective learning: a BEME systematic review. Med Teach. 2005;27:10-28.