Student-run Medical Simulation Lab: A Pilot Program
Medical simulations and training have been used to educate medical students and professionals since the early 1950s (1,2). Numerous studies on graduate level medical education have shown the benefit of using high-fidelity simulations to enhance and facilitate patient care, medical knowledge, practice-based learning, interpersonal and communication skills, professionalism and systems-based practice (3,4,5). There is little literature regarding student-run simulations in the setting of a graduate level medical education and its effectiveness. Thus, a pilot, student-run graduate level medical simulation lab was started to empower student leadership and promote the application of knowledge in a clinical setting for physician assistant (PA) students in their didactic year of training at a single institution.
Materials and Methods:
Medical simulation cases were chosen from on-line peer-reviewed medical literature. Five PA student preceptors underwent a 90-minute training session by the simulation lab instructor, reviewing the operation of the high-fidelity mannequin. Four, 20 minute medical simulations and ultrasound basics and practices were performed over the course of eight weeks. Each session was lead by three trained PA student preceptors in their didactic year of training. Following each simulation, there was a ten-minute debrief, led by a student preceptor, between the student preceptors and the three to five students participating in the simulation. At the completion of all four lab sessions, a ten question, anonymous survey was distributed to 37 students in their didactic year. The survey was a ten-point Likert scale and an unpaired t-test was used for statistical analysis.
Thirty of the 37 PA students responded to the survey. Of these, 22 participated in the simulation lab. The mean participation was 2.2 lab sessions. Students’ comfort in completing procedural skills was found to be statistically significant including ultrasound-guided IVs, paracentesis and needle thoracostomy, both at the end of their didactic year and midway through their clinical year (range: 0-8, mean: 3.6, p-value: < 0.005; range: 0-8; mean: 5.8, p-value: < 0.001, respectively). Additionally, 21 of 22 participants believed that their participation better prepared them for their clinical training year. Overall, 29 of 30 responders endorsed that they would have participated given a second chance.
Given the resources, student-run simulations should be used as an adjunct to enhance medical education and empower student leaders. In the future student-run medical simulation labs can be used to promote interprofessional education and clinical skills through adding critical care advanced practice nurses and medical students.