Simulation-based medical education has rapidly evolved over the past two decades, despite this, there are few published reports of its use in critical care teaching. We hypothesised that simulation-based teaching of a critical care topic to final-year medical students is superior to lecture-based teaching.
Thirty-nine final-year medical students were randomly assigned to either simulation-based or lecture-based teaching in the chosen critical care topic. The study was conducted over a 6-week period. Efficacy of each teaching method was compared through use of multiple choice questionnaires (MCQ) - baseline, post-teaching and 2 week follow-up. Student satisfaction was evaluated by means of a questionnaire. Feasibility and resource requirements were documented by teachers.
Eighteen students were randomised to simulation-based, and 21 to lecture-based teaching. There were no differences in age and gender between groups ( p > 0.05).
Simulation proved more resource intensive requiring specialised equipment, two instructors, and increased duration of teaching sessions (126.7 min (SD = 4.71) vs 68.3 min (SD = 2.36)).
Students ranked simulation-based teaching higher with regard to enjoyment ( p = 0.0044), interest ( p = 0.0068), relevance to taught subject ( p = 0.0313), ease of understanding ( p = 0.0476) and accessibility to posing questions ( p = 0.001).
Both groups demonstrated improvement in post-teaching MCQ from baseline ( p = 0.0002), with greater improvement seen among the simulation group ( p = 0.0387), however, baseline scores were higher among the lecture group. The results of the 2-week follow-up MCQ and post-teaching MCQ were not statistically significant when each modality were compared.
Simulation was perceived as more enjoyable by students. Although there was a greater improvement in post-teaching MCQ among the simulator group, baseline scores were higher among lecture group which limits interpretation of efficacy. Simulation is more resource intensive, as demonstrated by increased duration and personnel required, and this may have affected our results.