What is a simulation?

Medical simulation

Medical simulation, or more broadly, healthcare simulation, is a branch of simulation related to education and training in medical fields of various industries. Simulations can be held in the classroom, in situational environments, or in spaces built specifically for simulation practice.

It can involve simulated human patients – artificial, human or a combination of the two, educational documents with detailed simulated animations, casualty assessment in homeland security and military situations, emergency response, and support virtual health functions with holographic simulation. In the past, its main purpose was to train medical professionals to reduce error during surgery, prescription, crisis interventions, and general practice.

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The Medical Simulation Center of the Honoris United Universities network is


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Simulation medical

Experiential learning, which draws from prominent scholars such as John Dewey, Jean Piaget, and Carl Rogers, amongst others, underpins simulation-based learning. Often referred to as “learning by doing”, or more broadly, a “theory of experience”, Experiential Learning Theory states that experience plays a central role in human learning & development. The six principles of Experiential Learning Theory align with educational simulation. The six principles are:

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Debriefing, & Education Theory

  • Engaging students in a process that enhances learning. This includes “feedback on the effectiveness of their learning efforts,” (p. 194) and focus on the process, not the outcome.
  • Students have prior beliefs and ideas. A process which draws these beliefs & ideas out, with the intent of re-examining & re-testing them against a topic in order to accommodate new ideas, will lead to learning.
  • Learning is a process which cycles between reflection and action, feeling and thinking. “Conflict, differences, and disagreement are what drive the learning process” (p. 194); the resolution of these is what leads to learning.
  • Learning happens in interactions between the person and the environment which surrounds them.
  • Learning is more than cognition; it also involves thinking, feeling, perceiving, and behaving.
  • Learning is grounded in constructivist philosophy; “Learning is the process of creating knowledge

Evidence & Further Study

There exists a paucity of quantitative data regarding the effectiveness of debriefing in medical simulation, despite Lederman’s 1992 seminal Model for the Systematic Assessment of Debriefing. Nearly every article reviewed had a cry for objective studies regarding the effectiveness of debriefing, whether it be comparing: the myriad options of conversational structures, debriefing models, or the comprehensive 5 W’s of Who – debriefer, What – content & methods, When – timing, Where – environment, and Why – theory.[38] Currently, there are critical limitations in the presentation of existing studies, a sparsity of research related to debriefing topics of importance, and debriefing characteristics are incompletely reported.[38][20] Recommendations for future debriefing studies include:

  • Duration of debriefing
  • Educator presence
  • Educator characteristics
  • Content of debriefing
  • Structure & method of debriefing
  • Timing of debriefing[