To evaluate if the use of the modern human medical simulator in critical care teaching increases medical students’ knowledge of critical care in comparison with the traditional lecture.
We hypothesized that students who receive simulator-based teaching would outperform students who receive a standard lecture. We conducted a randomized controlled trial of simulation based-teaching versus traditional instruction among clinical medical students, using pre-post written evaluations (n = 31). After randomization, students received a pre-test followed by either a simulator session or a standard lecture session. The standard group received a traditional power-point lecture while the simulator group received an interactive scenario-based teaching with a computerized human patient simulator.
Within the simulator group, and within the standard group, there was a highly significant improvement from the pre-test to the post-test. But the degree of change from pre-test to post-test was not significantly different between the groups. Simulator group: mean pre-test = 48.6%, mean post-test = 90.7%, p < 0.0001 using the paired t test. Standard group: mean pre-test = 44.1%, mean post-test = 78.2%, p < 0.0001 using the paired t test. Degree of change (pre–post): 42.1% for simulator group, 34.1% for standard group: p = 0.23 using the t test for two independent samples.
The superiority of the simulator-based nonprocedural skills teaching could not be established after a single instructional session. Multi-simulator sessions and/or a larger sample size may be needed to demonstrate if a significant difference exists. Despite the apparent benefits of utilizing the patient simulation, our results are consistent with prior studies in other medical specialties on the comparative effects of technology-enhanced learning.
A single simulator based teaching session is as effective as a conventional lecture in teaching nonprocedural skills in critical care medicine. A potential simulator benefit is longer knowledge retention time. This would require a follow up study.
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