Simulated emergencies found to offer effective learning tool

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Aug. 3, 2009

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A simulation of a medical emergency using a computerized mannequin helped medical students learn and retain information on neuroscience concepts better than a traditional lecture, according to a study in the May Medical Teacher.

For the study, 112 first-year medical students at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C., were asked the same four questions after a lecture, then again after taking part in a 90-minute simulation. During the simulation, physicians played the roles of emergency medical services workers, nurses and family members. Students worked through the decision-making process to reach a diagnosis.

For two of the four questions, more students chose the correct answer on the postsimulation test. There was little or no change on the other two questions.

"We're interested in developing new and innovative ways to teach medical information," said Michael T. Fitch, MD, PhD, senior author of the study and an associate professor of emergency medicine at Wake Forest. He said the study results could spur medical schools to consider more large-group simulation exercises in addition to traditional lectures.

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