Roads less traveled: understanding the "why" in simulation as an integrated continuing professional development activity

Adv Simul (Lond). 2019 Nov 11;4:24. doi: 10.1186/s41077-019-0111-z. eCollection 2019.


Background: The simulation community has experienced significant advances, strengthening the case for the use of simulation in medical education toward improving patient outcomes. However, an underlying assumption particularly regarding utilization of simulation by those who are in practice, is that simulation will be selected as a continuing professional development (CPD) strategy. Exploring reasons for choices of educational formats, particularly regarding simulation, is poorly integrated into CPD research.

Discussion: Despite significant advances the scientific simulation community has been slow to produce evidence regarding why practitioners may be reserved in engaging in simulation or not. Using examples from related education contexts the author attempts to bridge simulation science, CPD and less commonly used theoretical frameworks to address this issue. The author argues that theoretical perspectives that recognize the use of simulation for CPD as a socio-personal process and/or a personal or group issue (e.g., theories of intelligence, self-determination theory, theory of planned behavior, social identity theory) and that are conceptually distinct from educational mechanisms/ provision are necessary to advance simulation use in CPD contexts.

Conclusion: Given the close relationship practicing clinicians have to patient outcomes a new imperative may be to focus on the theoretical and practical links informing simulation use for CPD at the level of the individual and individual-among-professional groups. The simulation community may therefore need to engage in research that attempts to further uncover and address underlying issues of "why" clinicians integrate simulation as CPD activities or not.

Keywords: Continuing medical education; Continuing professional development; Motivation; Simulation.