Simulation proves its value to Medical Education by a variety of measures. To cite a few examples, faculty specify and schedule simulation curricula in advance, when it makes the most sense in the continuum of training, rather than leaving it to the chance occurrence of learning during everyday patient care. The current generation of simulation technology and standardized patient presentation generate realism sufficient to be a surrogate for actual patient care. Lastly, by design and as a primary objective, simulation focuses on the learner and the application of knowledge, with the concomitant development of personal skill, rather than upon patient care.
Patient simulation provides the ability to repeatedly practice a wide range of clinical scenarios. Entirely replicable and highly standardized, simulated clinical encounters permit easier review and performance evaluation. Videotaped and reviewed by trainers, simulation experiences further facilitate learning and permit assessment of process and style, as well as outcome.
The convenience of scheduled practice on specific clinical events permits effective and efficient team training. Lessons taught in a realistic simulation translate into lasting retention due to the required active-learning and focused concentration, the experience's emotional investment, and the direct association with the real world. In sum, simulation not only complements clinical encounters, it finely tills readied minds, enhances skills, and informs a more compassionate and authentic professional confidence in the delivery of patient care.
Simulation as a Teaching Tool:
The application of clinical knowledge and the development of skills to diagnose successfully and treat patients effectively requires deliberate and meaningful practice. Opportunities to practice clinical management may be limited, because many specific clinical problems occur infrequently and are usually complicated by confounding factors.
Traditionally, medical students and residents acquire complex communication skills “on the fly” (e.g., doctor-patient interactions), with little time for practice and feedback. Consequently, actual clinical crises present suboptimal learning opportunities because of their relative rarity. Each event is unique, and improper treatment can have tragic consequences. Societal pressures, including cost-containment, ever changing litigious climates, and patient safety issues, increasingly preclude the use of real patients, especially ill ones, in hands-on medical education and training. Such an emergent reality renders untenable the "see one, do one, teach one" model. In its stead, simulation provides a unique opportunity to train clinical excellence more efficiently and effectively.