Does simulation-based medical education with deliberate practice yield better results than traditional clinical education? A meta-analytic comparative review of the evidence

Acad Med. 2011 Jun;86(6):706-11. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e318217e119.


Purpose: This article presents a comparison of the effectiveness of traditional clinical education toward skill acquisition goals versus simulation-based medical education (SBME) with deliberate practice (DP).

Method: This is a quantitative meta-analysis that spans 20 years, 1990 to 2010. A search strategy involving three literature databases, 12 search terms, and four inclusion criteria was used. Four authors independently retrieved and reviewed articles. Main outcome measures were extracted to calculate effect sizes.

Results: Of 3,742 articles identified, 14 met inclusion criteria. The overall effect size for the 14 studies evaluating the comparative effectiveness of SBME compared with traditional clinical medical education was 0.71 (95% confidence interval, 0.65-0.76; P < .001).

Conclusions: Although the number of reports analyzed in this meta-analysis is small, these results show that SBME with DP is superior to traditional clinical medical education in achieving specific clinical skill acquisition goals. SBME is a complex educational intervention that should be introduced thoughtfully and evaluated rigorously at training sites. Further research on incorporating SBME with DP into medical education is needed to amplify its power, utility, and cost-effectiveness.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence*
  • Comparative Effectiveness Research
  • Education, Medical / methods*
  • Humans
  • Manikins*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care*
  • Practice, Psychological*
  • United States