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Open Access Research article

A randomised controlled trial of extended immersion in multi-method continuing simulation to prepare senior medical students for practice as junior doctors

Gary D Rogers12*, Harry W McConnell1, Nicole Jones de Rooy1, Fiona Ellem3 and Marise Lombard1

Author Affiliations

1 School of Medicine, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Queensland 4222, Australia

2 Health Institute for the Development of Education and Scholarship, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Queensland 4222, Australia

3 School of Pharmacy, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Queensland 4222, Australia

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BMC Medical Education 2014, 14:90  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-14-90

Published: 2 May 2014

Abstract

Background

Many commencing junior doctors worldwide feel ill-prepared to deal with their new responsibilities, particularly prescribing. Simulation has been widely utilised in medical education, but the use of extended multi-method simulation to emulate the junior doctor experience has rarely been reported.

Methods

A randomised controlled trial compared students who underwent two, week-long, extended simulations, several months apart (Intervention), with students who attended related workshops and seminars alone (Control), for a range of outcome measures.

Results

Eighty-four third year students in a graduate-entry medical program were randomised, and 82 completed the study. At the end of the first week, Intervention students scored a mean of 75% on a prescribing test, compared with 70% for Control students (P = 0.02) and Intervention teams initiated cardiac compressions a mean of 29.1 seconds into a resuscitation test scenario, compared with 70.1 seconds for Control teams (P < 0.01). At the beginning of the second week, an average of nine months later, a significant difference was maintained in relation to the prescribing test only (78% vs 70%, P < 0.01).

At the end of the second week, significant Intervention vs Control differences were seen on knowledge and reasoning tests, a further prescribing test (71% vs 63% [P < 0.01]) and a paediatric resuscitation scenario test (252 seconds to initiation of fluid resuscitation vs 339 seconds [P = 0.05]).

Conclusions

The study demonstrated long-term retention of improved prescribing skills, and an immediate effect on knowledge acquisition, reasoning and resuscitation skills, from contextualising learning activities through extended multi-method simulation.