Virtual Simulators in Medical Education

The ability to provide immediate directed feedback is the primary advantage of simulation.

In an environment of increasing amount of medical information, data, and research, from a multitude of channels, medical simulation bridges the gap between the basic sciences and the clinical environment.

In a recent paper sponsored by the Mount Sinai School of Medicine; Institute for Medical Simulation and Advanced Learning, New York, NY; Health and Hospital Corporation, New York, NY; and Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, the authors Yasuharu Okuda, MD, Ethan O. Bryson, MD, Samuel DeMaria Jr, MD, Lisa Jacobson, MD, Joshua Quinones, MD, Bing Shen, MD, and Adam I. Levine, MD observe:

(Clinical skills) require the integration of problem- solving skills, communication skills, and technical skills in the setting of a complex medical context, and they require practice. The ultimate goal in medical education is expertise or mastery of one’s trade. Deliberate practice is an educational technique used to produce expert performance contingent upon 4 conditions: intense repetition of a skill, rigorous assessment of that performance, specific informative feedback, and improved performance in a controlled setting.

The ability to provide immediate directed feedback is the primary advantage of simulation. This opportunity is typically lacking in the clinical setting. It also effectively addresses the diversity of both learners and situations with its adaptable, programmable structure.

The authors noted a number of features of medical simulations that lead to effective learning:

  1. Mechanism for repetitive practice
  2. Ability to integrate into a curriculum
  3. Ability to alter the degree of difficulty
  4. Ability to capture clinical variation
  5. Ability to practice in a controlled environment
  6. Individualized, active learning
  7. Adaptability to multiple learning strategies
  8. Existence of tangible/measurable outcomes
  9. Use of intra-experience feedback
  10. Validity of simulation as an approximation of clinical practice

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