Medical students respond positively to simulated patient experience

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- When a vomiting, simulated patient mannequin was rolled into the lecture hall last fall to teach large numbers of first- and second-year Wake Forest University School of Medicine students about the brain and nervous system, Michael T. Fitch, M.D., Ph.D., wasnt sure what to expect.

In the end, he got the results he was looking for. I really didnt know what it was going to look like when I started, said Fitch, an emergency medicine specialist who developed the teaching scenario and conducted a pilot study to determine the simulations success in a non-traditional location with a large number of participants. The research is published online today in Medical Teacher and will appear in the August print issue.

It was hard to do and we really wanted to engage the students, said Fitch. High fidelity patient simulation of this kind has typically been done with small groups to teach clinical patient management and decision-making. What Fitch found through his student survey results is that it was well received in the large lecture setting. Students were overwhelmingly positive and the results will lead to future study of program expansion, he said. Survey results showed that 98 percent of participants rated the correlation to basic science concepts as very good or outstanding, and 99 percent felt the same way about the presentation.

Fitch, whose Ph.D. is in neuroscience and who directs the Emergency Departments simulation program, was asked by James Johnson, Ph.D., who directs the neuroscience courses taught to first- and second-year students, to develop a simulation to help teach basic science principles. Many medical schools use such computerized simulated patients to teach clinical skills, but Wake Forest is one of the first schools to use this technology in live, large group lecture settings.

Fitch organized a team of resident physicians to help him implement the emergency medicine scenario. The clinical

Contact: Bonnie Davis
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center

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