Adaptation of the US Army's After-Action Review for simulation debriefing in healthcare

Simul Healthc. 2013 Dec;8(6):388-97. doi: 10.1097/SIH.0b013e31829ac85c.


Postsimulation debriefing is a critical component of effective learning in simulation-based health care education. Numerous formats in which to conduct the debriefing have been proposed. In this report, we describe the adaptation the US Army's After-Action Review (AAR) debriefing format for postsimulation debriefing in health care. The Army's AAR format is based on sound educational theory and has been used with great success in the US Army and civilian organizations for decades. Debriefing using the health care simulation AAR process requires planning, preparation, and follow-up. Conducting a postsimulation debriefing using the health care simulation AAR debriefing format includes 7 sequential steps as follows: (1) define the rules of the debriefing, (2) explain the learning objectives of the simulation, (3) benchmark performance, (4) review what was supposed to happen during the simulation, (5) identify what actually happened, (6) examine why events occurred the way they did, and (7) formalize learning by reviewing with the group what went well, what did not go well and what they would do differently if faced with a similar situation in real life. We feel that the use of the health care simulation AAR debriefing format provides a structured and supported method to conduct an effective postsimulation debriefing, with a focus on the learning objectives and reliance on preidentified performance standards.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence / standards*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Delivery of Health Care / methods*
  • Delivery of Health Care / standards
  • Education, Medical / methods*
  • Education, Medical / standards
  • Humans
  • Mental Recall*
  • Military Personnel / education
  • Problem-Based Learning / methods*
  • United States