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High-Fidelity Simulation in an Entry-Level Physical Therapy Program

A Format for Debriefing

Bednarek, Melissa, PT, DPT, PhD, CCS; Williamson, Ann, PT, DPT, NCS; Downey, Patricia, PT, DPT, PhD

Cardiopulmonary Physical Therapy Journal: July 16, 2018 - Volume Publish Ahead of Print - Issue - p
doi: 10.1097/CPT.0000000000000086
Clinical Perspective: PDF Only

Purpose: The importance of debriefing after high-fidelity simulation (HFS) is well accepted; however, no recommendations exist in physical therapy literature for how best to do this. The primary purpose of this study was to describe a format for debriefing and a secondary purpose was to report student responses to the educational benefit of that process.

Methods: Based on a review of the literature and the HFS case objectives, a semi-structured debriefing format using open-ended questions was developed. Students were surveyed regarding the educational benefit of the debriefing process and the effectiveness of the debriefer using open-ended and Likert-scale questions. These responses were analyzed.

Results: After each of the 3 HFS experiences, an experienced faculty member facilitated the debriefing process by moving students through a reaction, analysis, and summary phase. Based on student feedback, the debriefing format used seemed to be effective in providing an opportunity for student reflection. A statistically significant positive correlation was found between the perceived educational benefit of debriefing and the effectiveness of the debriefer.

Conclusions: A semi-structured debriefing session after HFS, modeled on best practices in the literature, resulted in high student satisfaction. Future research should focus on standardization of the debriefing session and validating a debriefing tool.

1Physical Therapy Program, Chatham University, Pittsburgh, PA

2School of Health Sciences, Chatham University, Pittsburgh, PA

Correspondence: Melissa Bednarek, PT, DPT, PhD, CCS, Physical Therapy Program, Chatham University, Woodland Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15232 (

Funding ($106,850) to initiate simulation training in the Chatham University Doctor of Physical Therapy and Physician Assistant Studies Programs was received from a Highmark Foundation Grant.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Chatham University Institutional Review Board approved expedited proposal #1316 for this study.

© 2019 Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Section, APTA
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