Simulation-based clinical education is often adopted before clinical practice to provide health professional students with practice in a safe environment. The simulated environment is often presumed to replicate clinical practice, but performance in these settings is likely to be different. Simulation may be able to determine student clinical competency before clinical practice. However, there is little research comparing health professional student performance in simulation followed by clinical practice. The aim of the study was to determine whether there was an association between the performance of physical therapist students in simulation and clinical practice and whether aspects of simulation performance could predict subsequent clinical performance.
We measured clinical performance of 148 graduate entry-level master physical therapist students using the Assessment of Physiotherapy Practice (APP) tool (n = 296) at the end of 2 weeks of simulation and subsequent 3 weeks of clinical practice. Assessments were conducted by clinical educators. Data were analyzed using Pearson correlation and multiple regression with backward elimination for exploring predictors of clinical performance.
A significant association was found between student performance in simulation and clinical practice (r = .40, P < .001). Two domains of practice of the APP in simulation assessments, “analysis and planning” and “risk assessment,” were found to be predictive of student performance in subsequent clinical practice.
Discussion and Conclusion.
The association between physical therapist student performance in simulation and clinical practice adds support for simulation assessments being used to determine subsequent clinical practice performance. Educators may consider focusing on learner development in the domains of practice of “analysis and planning” and “risk assessment” in simulation as a way of assisting physical therapist student preparation for clinical practice and facilitating more effective implementation of simulation-based education practices.