Blurring the boundaries: scenario-based simulation in a clinical setting

Med Educ. 2005 Jun;39(6):580-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2929.2005.02110.x.


Context: The ability to perform clinical procedures safely is a key skill for health care professionals. Performing such procedures on conscious patients is challenging and requires a combination of technical and communication skills. We have developed quasi-clinical scenarios, where inanimate models attached to simulated patients provide a convincing learning environment. Procedures are rated by expert observers and by the 'patient' and recorded for subsequent review. This study explores the potential of locating such scenarios within a real clinical setting, allowing participants to experience the challenges of the workplace while ensuring patient safety. An innovative portable digital recording device (the 'Virtual Chaperone') is evaluated for use in clinical settings.

Methods: A qualitative design (observation and interview studies) investigated volunteer medical students undertaking 2 procedure scenarios (insertion of urinary catheter and wound closure with sutures) within the accident unit of a large London hospital. All procedures were observed in real time and recorded digitally (using the Virtual Chaperone). A protocol was used for structured feedback. Observational and interview data was analysed using standard qualitative techniques.

Results: Seven sessions with 22 undergraduate medical students took place over 9 months within 1 centre. Data confirmed the feasibility of using a moveable, self-contained training scenario within an authentic clinical setting. Overall, the response from participants was positive.

Conclusion: Scenario-based teaching within an authentic clinical environment is feasible and perceived by participants to be educationally useful. This approach blurs traditional boundaries between skills laboratory teaching and clinical practice and may offer considerable advantages in training for clinical procedures.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence / standards*
  • Communication
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / methods*
  • England
  • Manikins
  • Role Playing
  • Teaching / methods*
  • Teaching Materials