, Volume 23, Issue 1 Supplement, pp 46-49,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 19 Dec 2007

Simulation Technology for Skills Training and Competency Assessment in Medical Education

Abstract

Medical education during the past decade has witnessed a significant increase in the use of simulation technology for teaching and assessment. Contributing factors include: changes in health care delivery and academic environments that limit patient availability as educational opportunities; worldwide attention focused on the problem of medical errors and the need to improve patient safety; and the paradigm shift to outcomes-based education with its requirements for assessment and demonstration of competence. The use of simulators addresses many of these issues: they can be readily available at any time and can reproduce a wide variety of clinical conditions on demand. In lieu of the customary (and arguably unethical) system, whereby novices carry out the practice required to master various techniques—including invasive procedures—on real patients, simulation-based education allows trainees to hone their skills in a risk-free environment. Evaluators can also use simulators for reliable assessments of competence in multiple domains. For those readers less familiar with medical simulators, this article aims to provide a brief overview of these educational innovations and their uses; for decision makers in medical education, we hope to broaden awareness of the significant potential of these new technologies for improving physician training and assessment, with a resultant positive impact on patient safety and health care outcomes.