Difficult debriefing situations: A toolbox for simulation educators

Med Teach. 2018 Jul;40(7):703-712. doi: 10.1080/0142159X.2018.1468558. Epub 2018 May 23.


Background: Simulation-based education (SBE) has emerged as an essential modality for health professions education. One of the central tenants of effective SBE is reflective practice, typically guided by a facilitated debriefing. The debriefing conversation has the possibility of becoming a difficult conversation based on learner and situation-related factors. Difficult debriefing situations may threaten the learning environment, thus requiring an appreciation and understanding of the various ways that learners may react adversely to simulation and debriefing.

Aim: This article provides a review of the various phenotypes of difficult debriefing situations and a toolbox of proactive and reactive strategies to help guide the simulation educator to manage these situations, with the ultimate goal of achieving learning objectives.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Education, Medical
  • Educational Measurement / methods*
  • Emotions
  • Faculty, Medical / psychology
  • Formative Feedback*
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations*
  • Learning
  • Patient Simulation
  • Simulation Training*
  • Students, Medical / psychology*