Effect of the Advanced Trauma Life Support program on medical students' performance in simulated trauma patient management

J Trauma. 1998 Apr;44(4):588-91. doi: 10.1097/00005373-199804000-00005.


Background: Part of the senior medical students' examination at the University of Toronto involves testing with simulated patient management. We compared the performance in these simulations of senior medical students who received Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) training with those who did not receive ATLS training.

Methods: Thirty-two students (group I) completed a standard ATLS course, 12 students (group II) audited the ATLS course, and their performance in the trauma simulations was compared with 44 matched control students (group III) from the same class. Performance in the nontrauma patient simulation stations was also analyzed. The score on each station was standardized to a maximum of 20. The students were also graded on overall Approach (scale of 1 to 5) and pass status.

Results: The mean scores (+/-SD, *p < 0.05 compared with other groups) were as follows: Trauma Station, 17.5 +/- 1.02* for group I, 11.76 +/- 0.72* for group II, and 14.67 +/- 0.54* for group III; Nontrauma Station, 13.05 +/- 0.95 for group I, 12.25 +/- 0.72 for group II, and 11.88 +/- 0.80 for group III; Approach, 4.45 +/- 0.50* for group I, 2.09 +/- 0.60* for group II, 3.50 +/- 0.67* for group III. The ATLS-trained and ATLS-audit students had higher scores in the trauma stations than the control group, with the highest scores being in the ATLS-trained group. All ATLS-trained students passed with 62.5% honors and 37.5% passing grades. The ATLS-audit group had 33.3% honors and 66.6% passing grades, compared with the control group who had 84.09% pass, 9.09% borderline, and 6.82% failure in the trauma stations.

Conclusions: The ATLS course, both complete and audit status, prepares students more appropriately for managing trauma patients as judged by trauma simulation scenarios. Consideration should be given for including ATLS as an integral part of the senior medical student curriculum.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Clinical Competence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / methods*
  • Hospitals, Teaching
  • Humans
  • Life Support Care / standards*
  • Patient Simulation*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Trauma Centers
  • Traumatology / education*
  • Traumatology / standards*