Ten tips for developing a simulation experience

Classroom lectures can often be replaced by a range of simulation activities, using Standardized Patients (SPs), mannequins or virtual world. Providing invaluable learning experiences for students in health disciplines, these dynamic educational tools can be staged in a variety of settings.

Health Sciences Education and Research Commons (HSERC) educators provide support and assist in integrating simulation experiences in courses, scripting roles, delineating learning objectives, providing education to faculty members around designing, delivering and debriefing simulation.

  1. Identify the need for a simulation learning experience.
    Can you fill that practicum experiential learning gap? If you cannot get the experience in real life, then something needs to be put in place.
  2. What are your objectives?
    What is it that you want the students to experience and learn? Choose a maximum of three.
  3. Recreate a suitable event.
    Some of the best scenarios have been based on real life experiences. Consider past situations where you would have liked to have performed your first exercise in a safe environment such as a simulation lab.
  4. Draft the script.
    There are many script templates available. Choose a template that suits your program and health profession.
  5. Training.
    • The SP Educator will train the SPs to portray the patient in the role that you have developed for the learning objectives.
    • Simulation Technicians train operators to run various mannequin scenarios.
    • Computer Specialists train people in the art of virtual world, creating avatar's that can be used in many different health situations.
  6. Dry run the simulation.
    Run the scenario with the HSERC Educator, a facilitator or with each other. Make changes, additions and revisions to scripting.
  7. Pilot an inauguration program
    An official dry run which includes facilitators and students. There will always be improvements to any event.
  8. Feedback.
    Most effective when given immediately, students benefit from the opportunity to find out what they do well, what they should do more of, things they should do less of and things they should stop doing altogether. There are many different forms and techniques for you to explore.
  9. Debrief the event.
    Remember that the simulation scenario is a teaching tool for the preceptor and that the real learning begins after the role has been played out. Document or record everything.
  10. Debrief the debrief.
    • What went well, what was not successful.
    • What could we do better next time?
    • Reflection is a powerful tool.

Petra Duncan, Pam Rock, Sharla King, Renate Kahlke, Health Science Education and Research Commons, Health Science Council, University of Alberta