Patient simulation for training basic and advanced clinical skills

Med Educ. 2003 Nov;37 Suppl 1:14-21. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2923.37.s1.6.x.


Introduction: Patient simulators are increasingly used in the education and training of healthcare professionals. This paper describes the history of human patient simulator development, the features of contemporary simulators, the acquisition of basic and advanced clinical skills using patient simulators, and the benefits, cost, limitations and effectiveness of this innovative learning modality.

Simulator development: The development of human patient simulators began in the late 1960s, and accelerated in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Several simulator systems are now professionally manufactured, commercially available, and used at hundreds of medical centres, universities and colleges in the USA and throughout the world. Contemporary patient simulators have many clinical features, and look and respond to interventions with ever-increasing degrees of realism because sophisticated physiological and pharmacological models automatically control many features.

Simulator use in medical education: Simulators are used to teach basic skills, such as respiratory physiology and cardiovascular haemodynamics, and advanced clinical skills, e.g. management of difficult airways, tension pneumothorax, pulmonary embolism and shock.

Benefits, costs and limitations: The simulation laboratory offers distinct educational advantages, especially for learning how to recognise and to treat rare, complex, clinical problems. Costs of simulator-based educational programmes include facility, equipment and personnel. Current limitations include clinical realism of the patient manikin and faculty development.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence / standards*
  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Curriculum
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / methods*
  • Humans
  • Patient Simulation*
  • Teaching Materials