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Open Access Research article

Learning curves and long-term outcome of simulation-based thoracentesis training for medical students

Guanchao Jiang1, Hong Chen2*, Shan Wang3, Qinghuan Zhou4, Xiao Li1, Kezhong Chen1 and Xizhao Sui1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Thoracic Surgery, Peking University People's Hospital, No 11, Xizhimen South Street, Beijing 100044, China

2 Department of Cardiology, Peking University People's Hospital, No 11, Xizhimen South Street, Beijing 100044, China

3 Department of General Surgery, Peking University People's Hospital, No 11, Xizhimen South Street, Beijing 100044, China

4 Department of Education, Peking University People's Hospital, No 11, Xizhimen South Street, Beijing 100044, China

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BMC Medical Education 2011, 11:39  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-11-39

Published: 22 June 2011

Abstract

Background

Simulation-based medical education has been widely used in medical skills training; however, the effectiveness and long-term outcome of simulation-based training in thoracentesis requires further investigation. The purpose of this study was to assess the learning curve of simulation-based thoracentesis training, study skills retention and transfer of knowledge to a clinical setting following simulation-based education intervention in thoracentesis procedures.

Methods

Fifty-two medical students were enrolled in this study. Each participant performed five supervised trials on the simulator. Participant's performance was assessed by performance score (PS), procedure time (PT), and participant's confidence (PC). Learning curves for each variable were generated. Long-term outcome of the training was measured by the retesting and clinical performance evaluation 6 months and 1 year, respectively, after initial training on the simulator.

Results

Significant improvements in PS, PT, and PC were noted among the first 3 to 4 test trials (p < 0.05). A plateau for PS, PT, and PC in the learning curves occurred in trial 4. Retesting 6 months after training yielded similar scores to trial 5 (p > 0.05). Clinical competency in thoracentesis was improved in participants who received simulation training relative to that of first year medical residents without such experience (p < 0.05).

Conclusions

This study demonstrates that simulation-based thoracentesis training can significantly improve an individual's performance. The saturation of learning from the simulator can be achieved after four practice sessions. Simulation-based training can assist in long-term retention of skills and can be partially transferred to clinical practice.