Introduction to SimSIG – Dr Marina Sawdon
SimSIG is the Simulation Special Interest Group within the Centre for Medical Education Research led by Dr. Marina Sawdon which dedicates itself to simulation. Alongside an excellent focus on simulation research, SimSIG aims to increase understanding of simulation in undergraduate medical education and evaluating how best to use it.
Simulation is becoming increasingly ingrained within medical education programmes worldwide. With continuing technological advancement and limited patient contact both shaping the way medical students are educated and medical professionals practice, learning efficiently and being tech-savvy is an attractive quality in a medical student. Low-fidelity simulation has been at the crux of medical education for decades, with students eagerly palpating, percussing and prodding their peers in order to gain confidence and hone their skills. All well and good for preclinical practice and simple procedures, but limited opportunities for practicing more complex procedural skills have necessitated development of alternative methods of implementing teaching.
Laerdal, a Norwegian company and the brains behind the worldwide CPR teaching aid Resusci-Anne released their flagship product in 2001; SimMan is a computer controlled patient simulator mannequin who can be used to simulate a huge range of medical presentations. The newest generation of SimMan, SimMan 3G, has palpable pules, measurable blood pressure and reactive pupils, and trainees can auscultate, percuss and palpate for physiological measurements which can be programmed to simulate scenarios which can evolve over time. He can also sweat, cry, moan, groan, complain and convulse. Trainees can use SimMan to practice diagnostic and management skills, improve teamwork and gain confidence for similar situations in a clinical environment. SimMan can also be used to practice clinical skills and procedures such as thoracotomy, intubation, catheterisation and defibrillation, and practicing these skills without the aid of a simulator would necessitate patients who require such procedures, which are often rare events and potentially risky to manage. SimMan allows mastery of these skills without compromising patient safety. SimMan mirrors classical bedside teaching without the constraints of time or patient availability. Some researchers consider high-fidelity simulation to be an ‘ethical imperative’ in medical education as it allows risky procedures to be practiced in a risk-free environment, and has the ability to provide objective feedback from observers and SimMan himself, which is invaluable in performance evaluation.
Current areas of research for the SimSIG include exploring the emotional responses of students to an intense clinical scenario using SimMan, as well as evaluation of its use in clinical skills teaching.
1. Gordon JA, Wilkerson WM, Shaffer DW, et al. “Practicing” medicine without risk: students’ and educators’ responses to high-fidelity patient simulation. Acad Med. 2001;76:469-472.