Purpose: To determine whether medical student intubation proficiency with a neonatal mannequin differs according to weekly or consecutive day practice sessions during a six-week pediatric clerkship.
Method: From July 2010 through June 2011, the authors prospectively randomized 110 third-year medical students into three neonatal intubation practice groups: standard (control; no practice sessions), weekly (practice once/week for four consecutive weeks), or consecutive day (practice once/day for four consecutive days). At baseline, students performed intubation during individual sessions using a neonatal mannequin (SimNewB). Two reviewers, blinded to practice group, viewed videotapes of intubations and independently scored students on equipment selection, procedural skill steps, length of intubation attempts (in seconds), and the number of attempts (up to three) needed for a successful intubation. Videotaped individual final assessment intubation sessions during week six were evaluated in the same manner.
Results: Students in the weekly and consecutive day practice groups performed better at the final assessment on all variables than students in the standard group (P < .001), but over six weeks, the authors detected no differences between the two distributed practice formats for any outcomes of interest.
Conclusions: Practice improved all aspects of neonatal intubation performance, including choosing the correct equipment, properly performing the skill steps, length of time to successful intubation, and success rate, for novice health care providers in a simulation setting. Over six weeks, neither practice format proved superior, but it remains unclear whether one format is superior for learning and skill retention over the long term or in actual practice.