Purpose: Within the field of anesthesia, simulation has been used as a tool for training and assessment for over 30 years. The purpose of this review is to evaluate the state of the science in terms of its effectiveness as an approach to both training and assessment in anesthesia. Articles in the area of simulation and anesthesia published up to and including 2011 were reviewed for inclusion in this narrative review.
Principal findings: Simulation-based training is generally well received by participants, it can lead to improved performance in subsequent simulation events, and some transfer of learning to the clinical setting is evident. There is also some early evidence that well-designed performance assessments could have the required reliability and validity to support high-stakes examinations. However, further work is needed in order to set standards and establish the predictive validity to support such assessments.
Conclusion: For simulation to realize its potential impact, further research is needed to understand how to optimize this modality of learning more effectively, how to transfer knowledge of research findings to practice, and also how to broaden the simulation modalities used in anesthesia. In future, the optimal use of simulation will depend on a clear understanding of what can and cannot be accomplished with simulation and its various modalities.