Undergraduate teaching using SimMan

By Daniel Cummings and David Cox

One of the great things about simulation is that it engages students. Theory can be taught didactically, but simulation immerses a small group (and even, as we have shown, a large group) with a direct focus. Scenarios can be designed to suit the capabilities of the group and play out in real time, or adapted ‘on-the-fly’ by a facilitator, ensuring that students remain challenged by their interactions.
Simulation is a technique, not simply the utilisation of technology, and the way in which it is incorporated is as important as what it is used to teach. Much of the available data examines the use of SimMan in training emergency medicine staff at post-graduate level, although there is a relative paucity of data on the use of simulation in training undergraduate students, its usefulness as a teaching tool is unquestioned; one year after implementing simulation within its training of emergency medicine residents, the Harvard University Affiliated Emergency Medicine Programme has integrated simulation throughout their curriculum[1]. What we are doing differently at Durham is to transform the traditional approach to teaching core principles by using SimMan very early in the undergraduate curriculum (within the first month of their 5 year degree) to marry the theoretical the clinical, and give students a deeper understanding of the core principles of medicine.
Here at Durham University, the undergraduate Medicine Programme has successfully incorporated SimMan into the curriculum this academic year. He has been used to present a range of clinical cases such as MI and haemorrhage, as well as more intimate clinical skills such as palpating femoral pulses. Within the pharmacology lectures SimMan has been used to demonstrate live, routes of administration of drugs, pharmacological responses and drug-drug interactions; a powerful, visual and interactive way to support the didactic teaching of what is traditionally a difficult subject to engage students in.

1. Binstadt, Emily S., et al. “A comprehensive medical simulation education curriculum for emergency medicine residents.” Annals of emergency medicine 49.4 (2007): 495.

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