Objective: Simulation is a tool that has been used successfully in many high performance fields to permit training in rare and hazardous events. Our goal was to develop and evaluate a program to teach airway crisis management to otolaryngology trainees using medical simulation.
Methods: A full-day curriculum in the management of airway emergencies was developed. The program consists of three airway emergency scenarios, developed in collaboration between attending otolaryngologists and faculty from the Center for Medical Simulation. Following each scenario, the participants are led in a structured, video-assisted debriefing by a trained debriefer. Didactic material on team leadership and crisis management is built into the debriefings. Pediatric otolaryngology fellows, residents, and medical students have participated in the four courses that have been held to date. Participants evaluated the program on a five-point Likert scale.
Results: A total of 17 trainees participated in four pilot training courses. The survey data are as follows: overall program, 5.0 (SD, 0.00); course goals, 4.79 (SD, 0.43); realism, 4.36 (SD, 0.63); value of lecture, 4.71 (SD, 0.47); and quality of debriefings, 4.92 (SD, 0.28). Sample comments include: "This is a valuable tool for students and residents since true emergencies in ORL are often life-threatening and infrequent," and "This is a great course-really all physicians should experience it." Overall evaluation was extremely positive and both residents and fellows described the course as filling an important void in their education.
Conclusion: Medical simulation can be an extremely effective method for teaching airway crisis management and teamwork skills to otolaryngology trainees at all levels.