"Practicing" medicine without risk: students' and educators' responses to high-fidelity patient simulation

Acad Med. 2001 May;76(5):469-72. doi: 10.1097/00001888-200105000-00019.


Purpose: To understand the responses of medical students and educators to high-fidelity patient simulation, a new technology allowing "practice without risk."

Method: Pilot groups of students (n = 27) and educators (n = 33) were exposed to a simulator session, then surveyed with multiple-choice and open-ended questions. Open-ended comments were transcribed and coded. They were analyzed for recurring themes and tested for inter-rater agreement. An independent focus group subsequently performed higher-level thematic analysis.

Results: Overall, 85% of the students rated the session excellent and 85% of the educators rated it excellent or very good. Over 80% of both groups thought that simulator-based training should be required for all medical students. Analytic categories derived from written comments were: Overall Assessment (i.e., "generally good experience"); Process Descriptors (i.e., "very realistic"); Teaching Utility (i.e., "broad educational tool"); Pedagogic Efficacy (i.e., "promotes critical thinking"); and Goals for Future Use (i.e., "more practice sessions"). Thirty percent of students and 38% of educators were impressed by the realism of the simulator, and they (37% and 25%, respectively) identified the ability to "practice" medicine as the primary advantage of simulation. The focus group rated cost as the major current disadvantage (66%).

Conclusions: Students' and educators' responses to high-fidelity patient simulation were very positive. The ability to practice without risk must be weighed against the cost of this new technology.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Clinical Clerkship / economics
  • Clinical Clerkship / methods*
  • Clinical Clerkship / standards*
  • Emergency Medicine / education*
  • Faculty, Medical*
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Michigan
  • Organizational Objectives
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care
  • Patient Simulation*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Students, Medical / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Teaching / methods
  • Teaching / standards