Open Access Research article

Teacher-made models: the answer for medical skills training in developing countries?

Trung Q Tran*, Albert Scherpbier, Jan Van Dalen and Pamela E Wright

BMC Medical Education 2012, 12:98  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-12-98

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The true costs of simulation equipment

Kieran Walsh   (2013-02-15 14:54)  BMJ Group email

Dear Editor,
Tran and colleagues provide a fascinating insight into how best to deliver simulation training that is both highly effective and low cost (1). They give a clear outline of some of the potential short-comings of the study in the discussion but surprisingly do not discuss costs in any great detail. The authors claim that the cost of producing their model was 5 USD and compared this with the commercial model which was available at a cost of 300-400 USD. However this may not be a fair comparison. The 300-400 USD is likely to be the price of the commercially available model �� the cost of producing it is likely to be less than this. Also the cost of producing their model at 5 USD seems remarkably low. It would be helpful to see a breakdown of such costs. Is this simply the cost of manufacture or does it include the cost of research, development, design, planning, road-testing, evaluation and quality assurance of the new model? Does it include the costs of space or facilities required for manufacture (even if these rooms were part of the medical school)? These are all costs that the commercial manufacturer would have to account for and so it seems only fair that the medical school should account for these also. Also the teacher made model was used by attaching it to patients - did the authors take into account the cost of patients in their analyses? It is likely that producing the home-grown model was done at bulk and that this enabled them to get the cost per model so low, however it would be helpful to know how many models needed to be produced to achieve this level of cost.

It is almost certain that the teacher made model cost less than the commercially available model �� but we need more data to be able to say for certain whether the cost of the teacher made model was less than 1.7% of the commercially available one.
Yours Sincerely,
Kieran Walsh


1. Tran TQ, Scherpbier A, Van Dalen J, Wright PE. Teacher-made models: the answer for medical skills training in developing countries? BMC Med Educ. 2012 Oct 19;12(1):98. [Epub ahead of print]

Competing interests

There are no competing interests


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