Simulation in Continuing Medical Education
Simulation, in its current guise, is becoming more and more established in medical education and is a proven educational modality for student learners. While simulation is becoming more widely used in medical schools for students, it is still in its early stages as a tool for continuing medical education after medical students have graduated and entered practice. This is especially true for virtual patient simulation where the discipline is still certainly one that is burgeoning. The power of simulation in continuing medical education, however, should not be understated. Simulation for clinicians allows learners to have the freedom to practice without consequences, provides feedback on learner decisions, has the ability to repeat scenarios for mastery, and effects positive behavior changes.
Freedom to practice without consequences
Physicians are often asked to make assessments and decisions quickly and sometimes based on limited information. Medicine is after all, full of messy and ill-defined problems. In situations like that, particularly when a physician is assessing a condition for the first time, the stakes are high and a good outcome hangs in the balance. Virtual patient simulation (VPS) allows learners to replicate those scenarios and make quick decisions in terms of diagnosis and treatment, all without risk to a patient. They have permission to make mistakes and learn from those mistakes in order to improve.
Feedback on learner decisions
VPS also has the advantage of providing immediate, expert feedback to learners. Once physicians are out of medical school, they don’t have the same opportunities to get expert feedback on their clinical decision-making. VPS helps bridge this gap by using technology to analyze a learner’s actions and decisions, then providing feedback and learning opportunities. It acts as a learning vehicle and conduit for world-renowned professionals to convey their best practice ideas directly to learners. This helps a learner to understand the actions they’ve taken and the decisions they’ve made in the context of the practice exercise, understand the rationale behind how they can improve, and make real-time course corrections.
VPS can be a powerful continuing education tool for clinicians that gives them the ability to practice real world scenarios, receive feedback, and improve their clinical decision making
The ability to repeat scenarios
The power of VPS to allow learners to repeat scenarios with increasing levels of difficulty is another unique advantage of learning in this way. Learners progress from novice to advanced levels of competence through mastery learning. This helps clinicians build confidence in their decision-making by ensuring they reach a clearly defined benchmark before progressing to the next level.
VPS affects behavior change
In an analysis of learners using MedSims, A VPS platform from Medscape Education, a significant change in behavior was seen from start to end of a simulation. From August 2018 to August 2019, 22,480 unique healthcare professional learners utilized the MedSims platform to participate in realistic patient care scenarios. In MedSims, learners were given the opportunity to assess, order tests, diagnose, and treat patients to receive instant feedback on their clinical decision-making.For questions answered correctly from pre-to-post guidance, asignificant positive behavior change of 15% (P<.001) was observed. This demonstrates that VPS can have a significant impact on behavior change, and is an effective method of educating patients.
VPS can be a powerful continuing education tool for clinicians that gives them the ability to practice real world scenarios, receive feedback,and improve their clinical decision making.