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Evaluating the Impact of Simulation on Translational Patient Outcomes

McGaghie, William C. PhD; Draycott, Timothy J. MD; Dunn, William F. MD; Lopez, Connie M. RN, MSN; Stefanidis, Dimitrios MD, PhD

Simulation in Healthcare: The Journal of the Society for Simulation in Healthcare: August 2011 - Volume 6 - Issue 7 - p S42-S47
doi: 10.1097/SIH.0b013e318222fde9
Research Summit Article

Introduction: A long and rich research legacy shows that under the right conditions, simulation-based medical education (SBME) is a powerful intervention to increase medical learner competence. SBME translational science demonstrates that results achieved in the educational laboratory (T1) transfer to improved downstream patient care practices (T2) and improved patient and public health (T3).

Method: This is a qualitative synthesis of SBME translational science research (TSR) that employs a critical review approach to literature aggregation.

Results: Evidence from SBME and health services research programs that are thematic, sustained, and cumulative shows that measured outcomes can be achieved at T1, T2, and T3 levels. There is also evidence that SBME TSR can yield a favorable return on financial investment and contributes to long-term retention of acquired clinical skills. The review identifies best practices in SBME TSR, presents challenges and critical gaps in the field, and sets forth a TSR agenda for SBME.

Conclusions: Rigorous SBME TSR can contribute to better patient care and improved patient safety. Consensus conference outcomes and recommendations should be presented and used judiciously.

From the Center for Education in Medicine (W.C.M.), Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL; Southmead Hospital (T.J.D.), Bristol, UK; College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic (W.F.D.), Rochester, MN; Kaiser Permanente Program Offices (C.M.L.), Oakland, CA; and Department of Surgery (D.S.), Carolinas Healthcare System, Charlotte, NC.

Supported in part by the Jacob R. Suker, MD, professorship in medical education at Northwestern University and by grant UL 1 RR 025741 from the National Center for Research Resources, National Institutes of Health (to W.C.M.).

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Reprints: William C. McGaghie, PhD, Center for Education in Medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, 1-003 Ward Building, 303 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611 (e-mail:

© 2011 Society for Simulation in Healthcare