Medical Simulation-Based Learning Outcomes in Pre-Clinical Medical Education

Cureus. 2020 Dec 3;12(12):e11875. doi: 10.7759/cureus.11875.


Introduction Medical simulation is widely used in the United States medical curriculum. However, learning outcomes based on simulation have yet to be reported. In this study, we aim to characterize the objective performance of first- and second-year medical students following eight weeks of medical simulation-based learning. Methods First- (n=25) and second-year (n=15) medical students were recruited for this study. We designed and administered a novel pre-experience examination to collect participant demography and assess simulation and non-simulation knowledge. Following 14 high-fidelity simulation scenarios over the course of eight weeks, we administered an identical post-experience examination and compared performance, primarily using a within-subjects analytic design. Results Student performance improved by an average of 18% following the medical simulation experience, and first-year students demonstrated greater benefit (22%) as compared to second-years (12%). Relative to first-years, second-year students showed higher overall performance on both pre- and post-examination. Demographic factors and prior medical experience were not significantly associated with assessment performance and score improvement. Conclusions Our data supported the efficacy of simulation-based learning as evidenced by the significant improvement in objective performance on a standardized examination. That is, both first- and second-year medical students demonstrated test-score improvement following an eight-week medical simulation program. Of note, the first-year students exhibited greater benefit (at the group level). Importantly, these findings were statistically unrelated to participant demographic and background variables. Collectively, this study provides preliminary evidence that medical simulation in the pre-clinical phase of undergraduate medical education is an effective tool for student learning.

Keywords: clinical; comlex; emergency medicine; medical education; pre-clinical; undergraduate; usmle.