Study objectives: To evaluate a teaching protocol comparing a critical care attending to a housestaff team in training medical interns in initial airway management skills using a computer-controlled patient simulator (CPS) and scenario-based simulation training (SST).
Design: Prospective, randomized, controlled, unblinded trial.
Setting: Internal medicine residency training program in an urban teaching hospital.
Participants: Forty-nine starting internal medicine interns in July 2003, all of whom had been certified in advanced cardiac life support in June 2003.
Interventions: All interns were tested and scored with a CPS while responding to a standardized respiratory arrest scenario. Random allocation to either training by a single experienced teaching attending or by a housestaff team occurred immediately following testing. All interns were retested using the same scenario 6 weeks following the initial training, and their clinical performance of airway management was scored during actual patient events throughout the year.
Measurements: Initial airway management was divided into specific scorable steps. For each intern, individual step scores and total scores were recorded before and after training. For 10 consecutive months following training, intern airway management scores were recorded for actual patient airway events.
Results: All starting medical interns demonstrated poor initial airway management skills. SST was effective in improving these skills, both on retesting with the patient simulator and in actual patient situations. Interns trained by a housestaff team performed as well as interns trained by the attending.
Conclusions: SST is effective in training medical interns, and the results are equivalent whether the training is provided by an experienced teaching attending or by a housestaff training team.