Simulation Design

This critique on simulation design was written by Alice Gray, a PGY 4 in Emergency Medicine at The University of Toronto and 2017 SHRED [Simulation, Health Sciences, Resuscitation for the Emergency Department] Fellow.

Have you ever designed a simulation case for learners? If so, did you create your sim on a “cool case” that you saw?  I think we have all been guilty of this; I know I have. Obviously a unique, interesting case should make for a good sim, right?  And learning objectives can be created after the case creation?

Recently, during my Simulation, Health Sciences and Resuscitation in the ED fellowship (SHRED), I have come to discover some theory and methods behind the madness of creating sim cases. And I have pleasantly discovered that rather than making things more complicated, having an approach to sim creation can not only help to guide meaningful educational goals but also makes life a whole lot easier!

I find it helpful to think of sim development in the PRE-sim, DURING-sim, and POST-sim phases.

In a systematic review of simulation-based education, Issenberg et al, describe the 10 aspects of simulation interventions that lead to effective learning, which I will incorporate these the different phases of sim design.1

PRE-sim

 Like many things, the bulk of the work and planning are required in the PRE phase.

When deciding to use sim or not as a learning tool, the first step should be to ask what modality is most appropriate based on the stated learning objectives?1 A one-sized fits all approach is not optimal for learning. This is stated well in a paper by Lioce et al about simulation design that the “modality is the platform of the experience”.2 For me, one of the most important things to take into consideration is the following: can the learning objectives be appropriately attained though simulation, and if so, what type of simulation?  For example, if the goal is to learn about advanced airway adjuncts, this may be best suited by repetitive training on an airway mannequin or a focused task trainer. If the goal is to work through a difficult airway algorithm, perhaps learners should progress through cases requiring increasingly difficult airway management using immersive, full-scale simulation.  You can try in-situ inter-professional team training to explore systems-based processes.  Basically, a needs assessment is key. The paper by Lioce et al. describe guidelines when working through a needs assessment.2

 Next, simulation should be integrated into an overall curriculum to provide the opportunity to engage in repetitive (deliberate) practice:1 Simulation in isolation may not produce effective sustainable results.3  An overall curriculum development, while time consuming to develop and implement, is a worthy task.  Having one simulation build upon others may improve learning through spaced repetition, varying context, delivery and level of difficulty.

This can be difficult to achieve given constrained time, space and financial resources.  Rather than repeat the same cases multiple times, Adler et al created cases that had overlapping themes; the content and learning objectives differed between the cases but they had similar outcome measures. 3 This strategy could be employed in curriculum design to enhance repeated exposure while limiting the number of total sessions required.

Effective programmatic design should facilitate individualized learning and provide clinical variation: 1 Lioce et al, refer to a needs assessment as the foundation for any well-designed simulation.2 Simulation has addressed certain competencies residents are supposed to master – airway, toxicology, trauma, pediatrics, etc – without seeking input a priori on the learning needs of the residents. It may be valuable to survey participants and design simulations based on perceived curriculum gaps or learning objectives or try to assess baseline knowledge with structured assessment techniques prior to designing cases and curricula. (NB: Such a project is currently underway, led by simulation investigators at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto).

 Learners should have the opportunity to practice with increasing levels of difficulty:1 It is logical that learners at different stages of their training require different gradations of difficultly. Dr. Martin Kuuskne breaks down the development of simulation cases into their basic elements.  He advocates for thinking of each sim objective in terms of both knowledge and cognitive process.4

The knowledge components can divided into the medical and critical resource management (CRM), or more preferably, non-technical skills. 5 Medical knowledge objectives are self-explanatory and should be based on the level of trainee. Non-technical skills objectives typically relate to team-based communication, leadership, resource utilization, situational awareness and problem solving.6  Kuuskne’s post makes the very salient point that we need to limit the number of objectives in both these domains as this can quickly overwhelm learners and decreased absorption of knowledge.

The cognitive processes objectives can also be developed with increasing complexity, depending on the level of the trainee.4  For example, at the lowest level of learning is “remembering” – describing, naming, repeating, etc.   At the highest levels of learning is “creating” – formulate, integrate, modify, etc.  A case could be made to involve senior learners in creating and implementing their own sim cases.

DURING-sim

 As part of creating scripts and cases, case designers should try to anticipate learner actions and pitfalls.  There will always be surprises and unexpected actions (a good reason to trial, beta test and revise before deploying). On EMSimCases.com, Kuuskne outlines his approach to creating the case progression, and how can it be standardized.6  The patient in the simulation has a set of definite states: i.e. the condition of the patient created by vital signs and their clinical status.6  We can think of progression to different states through learner modifiers and triggers: Modifiers are actions that make a change in the patient, whereas triggers are actions that changes the state of the patient.  I found this terminology helpful when outlining case progression.

Simulation allows for standardization of learning in a controlled environment: 11 The truth of residency training is that even in the same program, residents will all have uniquely different experience.  One resident ahead of me, at graduation, had taken part in 10 resuscitative thoracotomies.  Many residents in the same class had not seen any.  We cannot predict what walks through our doors but we can try to give residents the same baseline skills and knowledge to deal with whatever does.

POST-sim

 Feedback is provided during the learning experience1 unless in an exam-type setting, where it should be given after.  It is important again to note the necessity of limiting the number of learning objectives, so you have room for scripted and unscripted topics of conversation.  Debriefing the case should be a breeze, as it should flow from the case objectives created at the beginning.

Going further than “the debrief” is the idea of how we evaluate the value of sim. To me, this is the most difficult and rarely done.  Evaluation of each sim case should be sought from participants and stakeholders, in addition to the pilot testing.  That information needs to be fed forward to make meaningful improvements in case design and implementation.

Outcomes or benchmarks should be clearly defined and measured.  The randomized study by Adler et al created clearly defined critical rating checklists during the development and needs assessment of their sim cases. 3 They then tested each case twice on residents to get feedback.

In summary, although a “cool case” is always interesting, it doesn’t always make the best substrate for teaching and learning in the simulator.  Thoughtful case creation for simulation needs to go beyond that, breaking down the design process into basic, known components and using a structured theory-based approach in order to achieve meaningful educational outcomes.

REFERENCES:

1               Issenberg et al. Features and uses of high-fidelity medical simulations that lead to effective learning: A BEME systematic review. Med Teach. 2005;27:10 –28.

2               Lioce et al. Standards of Best Practice: Simulation Standard IX: Simulation Design.  Clinical Stimulation in Nursing. 2015;11:309-315.

3               Adler et al. Development and Evaluation of a Simulation-Based Pediatric Emergency Medicine Curriculum. Academic Medicine. 2009;84:935-941.

4               Kuuskne M. How to develop targeted simulation learning objectives – Part 1: The Theory. April 21, 2015 https://emsimcases.com/2015/04/21/how-to-develop-targeted-simulation-learning-objectives-part-1-the-theory/

5               Kuuskne M. How to develop targeted simulation learning objectives – Part 2: The Practice. June 15, 2015. https://emsimcases.com/2015/06/16/how-to-develop-targeted-simulation-learning-objectives-part-2-the-practice/

6               Kuuskne M. Case Progression: states, modifiers and triggers. May 19, 2015. ​https://emsimcases.com/2015/05/19/case-progression-states-modifiers-and-triggers/

 

 

 

Cashing out by buying in – How expensive does a mannequin have to be to call a simulation “high fidelity?”

This critique on simulation fidelity was written by Alia Dharamsi, a PGY 4 in Emergency Medicine at The University of Toronto and 2017 SHRED [Simulation, Health Sciences, Resuscitation for the Emergency Department] Fellow.

How expensive does a mannequin have to be to call a simulation “high fidelity?”

mannequin

That was the question I was pondering this week, as our SHRED theme this month is simulation in medical education. In my 4th year of residency at University of Toronto, most of my simulation training has been in one of our two simulation labs, using one of our three “high fidelity” mannequins. However, even though the simulation labs and equipment have been very consistent over the past few years, I have found a fluctuating attentiveness and “buy-in” to these simulation sessions: some have felt very real and have resulted in a measurable level of stress and urgency to improve the patient’s (read: mannequin’s) outcome while others have felt like a mandatory hoop through which to jump in order to pass a rotation.

It should not come to anyone’s surprise to note that in Emergency Medicine, simulation is a necessary part of our development as residents. Simulation based medical education allows trainees to meet standards of care and training, mitigates risks to patients, develops clinical competencies, improves patient safety, aids in managing complex patient encounters, and protects patients [1]. Furthermore, in emergency medicine, simulation has allowed me to practice rare and life-saving critical skills like cricothyroidotomies and thoracotomies before employing them in real-time resuscitations. Those who know me will tell you when it comes to simulation I fully support its use as an educational tool, but there does still seem to be an ebb and flow to how much I commit to each sim case that I participate in as a learner.

During a CCU rotation,  I was involved in a relatively simple “chest pain” simulation exercise. As the circulating resident, I was tasked with giving the patient ASA to chew. In that moment I didn’t just simulate giving ASA; I took the yellow lid from an epinephrine kit (it looked like a small circular tablet) and put it in the mannequin’s mouth asking him to chew it. I did not think much of it until our airway resident was preparing to intubate, and the whole case derailed into an “ airway foreign body” scenario—to the confusion of the simulationists sitting behind the window who didn’t know how that foreign body got into the airway in the first place. Why did I do that? I believe it’s because I bought into the scenario, and in my eyes that mannequin was my patient, and my patient needed the ASA to chew. The case of a chest pain—although derailed into a difficult airway case by my earnest delivery of medications—was in the context of a residency rotation where I was expected to manage the CCU independently overnight. That context allowed me to buy-into the case because I knew these skills were transferrable to my role as a CCU resident. My buy-in has had less to do with the mannequin and the physical space and everything to do with how the simulation fit into the greater context of my current training.

There has been discussion amongst simulationists that there should be a frame shift away from fidelity and towards educational effectiveness: helping to engage learners, providing framework and context to aid them in suspending their disbelief, and providing structure to apply the simulation to real-time resuscitations in order to enhance learner engagement [2]. The notion of functional fidelity is one that resonates with me as a budding simulationist; if a learner has an educational goal and is oriented to how the simulation will provide the context and platform to learn that goal, the learner may more easily “project fidelity onto the simulation scenario.” That is, the learner will buy-into the simulation [2].

 So how do we facilitate buy-in?

We can start by orienting learners meaningfully and intentionally to the simulation exercises. [3] This can be accomplished by demonstrating how the concepts from the simulation are transferrable to other contexts which can allow the learners to engage on a deeper level with the simulation and see the greater applicability of what they are learning [2].  We can’t assume learners understand why or how this exercise is applicable to them. A chest pain case for a senior resident in emergency medicine has very different learning outcomes than the same case for an off service junior resident rotating through the ER; the same can be said for a resident primarily working in the hospital or working in an outpatient clinic. Tailoring case objectives to learners specifically provides an opportunity to provide relevant skills to learners in the context of their training, giving them a reason to buy-in to the scenario session. Moving beyond “to learn…” or “to outline the management of…”, I would advocate that specifically outlining objectives for the level and specialties of participating learners will help them see the employability of the skills they gain in the simulation.

We can also use those specific objectives and context we start the simulation session with to foster a more directed debrief. The post-simulation discussion should not only cover medical management principles but also specific discussion about what learners would do if they encountered a similar situation in their specific work environment (clinic, ward, etc), transferring the learning out of the simulation lab and into real world medical practice.

If we are going to see simulation as a tool, let’s see it as one of those fancy screwdrivers with multiple bits, and stop trying to use the screwdriver handle as a hammer for every nail. No one mannequin, regardless of how expensive and how many fancy features it has, can replace the role of a thoughtful facilitator who can help learners buy-into the simulation. If facilitators take the time to orient the learner to their specific learning objectives and then reinforce that context in the debrief discussion, they can increase the functional fidelity of the session and aid learners in maximizing their benefit from each simulation experience.

 

Citations 

  1. Ziv, A., Wolpe, P. R., Small, S. D., & Glick, S. (2003). Simulation-Based Medical Education. Academic Medicine, 78(8), 783-788. doi:10.1097/00001888-200308000-00006
  2. Hamstra, S. J., Brydges, R., Hatala, R., Zendejas, B., & Cook, D. A. (2014). Reconsidering Fidelity in Simulation-Based Training. Academic Medicine, 89(3), 387-392. doi:10.1097/acm.0000000000000130
  3. Issenberg, S. B., Mcgaghie, W. C., Petrusa, E. R., Gordon, D. L., & Scalese, R. J. (2005). Features and uses of high-fidelity medical simulations that lead to effective learning: a BEME systematic review. Medical Teacher, 27(1), 10-28. doi:10.1080/01421590500046924

 

Aortic Dissection

This case was written by Dr. Martin Kuuskne who is one of the editors-in-chief at EMSimCases and is an attending Emergency Medicine Physician at University Health Network in Toronto.

Why it Matters

Aortic Dissection is one of the most deadly causes of chest pain for the emergency physician. Its presentation, methods of diagnosis, management and complications are varied and demand critical thinking, clear communication and teamwork. This case highlights the following points:

  1. The key elements of the history, physical exam and initial investigations that support the diagnosis of aortic dissection.
  2. The importance of managing hypertension in the setting of aortic dissection, including specific blood pressure and heart rate targets.
  3. The need to set priorities dynamically as a patient becomes unstable and requires ACLS care.

Clinical Vignette 

You are working the day shift at a tertiary-care hospital. A 66-year-old female is being wheeled into the resuscitation bay with a history of a syncopal episode. No family members or friends are present with the patient.

Case Summary

A 66-year-old female with a history of smoking, HTN and T2DM presents with syncope while walking her dog. She complains of retrosternal chest pain radiating to her jaw. She will become increasingly bradycardic and hypotensive, requiring the team to mobilize resources in order to facilitate diagnosis and management of an aortic dissection.

Download the case here: Aortic Dissection

First EKG for the case: Sinus tachycardia

(EKG Source: http://i0.wp.com/lifeinthefastlane.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/sinus-tachycardia.jpg)

Second EKG for the case:

mobitz-1-stemi

(EKG Source: http://hqmeded-ecg.blogspot.ca/2012_09_01_archive.html)

CXR for the case:

(CXR Source: https://radiopaedia.org/articles/aortic-dissection)

VSA Megacode

This case is written by Dr. Cheryl ffrench, a staff Emergency Physician at the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg. She is the Associate Program Director and the Director of Simulation for the University of Manitoba’s FRCP-EM residency program; she is also on the Advisory Board of emsimcases.com.

Why it Matters

Leading a resuscitation is a core skill of an Emergency Physician. More often than not, we know very little about the patient’s history before orchestrating a team of nurses, respiratory technicians, residents and other team members to provide resuscitative care. Assessment of the cardiac rhythm and pulse allows us to start with ACLS algorithms in order to hopefully obtain return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC), initiate post-ROSC care and arrange for the appropriate disposition of the patient This case, which is geared toward junior learners, highlights the following:

  • The importance of resource allocation during a prolonged resuscitation
  • Managing the resuscitation team, ensuring effective communication and recognizing compression fatigue.
  • Providing high quality ACLS and post-ROSC care
  • Recognizing STEMI as the cause of the cardiac arrest and initiating disposition for percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI)

Clinical Vignette

A 54-year-old male police officer presents to the ED with chest pain. He played his normal weekend hockey game about two hours ago. He has been having retrosternal chest pain since the game ended. It improved with rest, but has not resolved completely. It is worse after walking into the department. He now feels dizzy, short of breath, and nauseous.

Case Summary

A 54-year-old male police officer presents to the ED complaining of chest pain for two hours that started after his weekend hockey game. He is feeling dizzy and short of breath upon presentation. He will have a VT arrest as he is placed on the monitor. He will require two shocks and rounds of CPR before he has ROSC. He will then loose his pulse again while the team is trying to initiate post-arrest care; this will happen several times. Finally, the team will maintain ROSC. When an ECG is performed, it is revealed that the patient has a STEMI and the team will need to call for emergent PCI.

Download the case here: VSA Megacode

ECG for the case found here:

anterolateral

(ECG source: http://cdn.lifeinthefastlane.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/anterolateral.jpg)

Post Intubation-CXR for the case found here:

normal-intubation2

(CXR source: https://emcow.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/normal-intubation2.jpg)

Tumour Lysis Syndrome

This case is written by Dr. Donika Orlich; a PGY5 Emergency Medicine resident at McMaster University who completed a fellowship in Simulation and Medical Education last year.

Why it Matters

Tumor Lysis Syndrome is a constellation of metabolic disturbances that can occur as a potentially fatal complication of treating cancers, most notably leukemias or solid rapidly-proliferating tumours. This case highlights the following:

  • The identification and management of severe hyperkalemia
  • The need to consider Tumour Lysis Syndrome as a diagnosis and order appropriate metabolic tests
  • Recognizing and initiating the treatment of severe hyperuricemia
  • Communicating with family members effectively during the treatment of a critically ill patient.

Clinical Vignette

A 72-year-old male presents to the emergency department complaining of general weakness for 2 days.  His wife called EMS and he was a STEMI patch to your hospital. He has been placed in the resuscitation bay.

Case Summary

A 72-year-old male is brought in as a “code STEMI” to the resuscitation bay. He was recently diagnosed with ALL and had chemotherapy 3 days ago for the first time. The patient is severely hyperkalemic, which must be initially recognized and treated, hypocalcemic and hyperuricemic as a result of Tumour Lysis Syndrome and the metabolic derangements must be stabilized until emergent hemodialysis is arranged.

Download the case here: Tumour Lysis Syndrome

ECGs for the case found here:

ecg90406-hyperkalaemia-pr-lengthens

(Source:  http://lifeinthefastlane.com/ecg-library/basics/hyperkalaemia/)

normal-sinus-rhythm

(Source:  http://cdn.lifeinthefastlane.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/normal-sinus-rhythm.jpg)

CXR for the case found here:

CXR

Unstable Bradycardia

This case was written by Dr. Martin Kuuskne from McGill University. Dr. Kuuskne is a PGY5 Emergency Medicine resident and one of the editors-in-chief at EMSimCases.

Why it Matters

High-degree AV blocks (second degree Mobitz type II and third degree AV block) rarely respond to atropine and necessitate the utilization of electromechanical pacing, IV chronotropic agents or both. This case highlights the following points:

  1. Anticipating for the deterioration of patient with an unstable bradycardia by early pacer pad placement and initiating transcutaneous pacing
  2. The use of IV chronotropic agents in the treatment of severe bradycardia
  3. Recognizing PEA in the deteriorating bradycardic patient

Clinical Vignette 

A 78-year-old male from a long-term care facility is being transferred to the emergency department for decreased mental status.

Case Summary

A 78-year-old male presents to the emergency department with an unstable bradycardia. The patient deteriorates from a second degree, Mobitz Type II-AV block into a third degree AV block requiring ACLS protocol medications, transcutaneous pacing, and ultimately transvenous pacing until definitive management with a permanent pacemaker can be arranged.

Download the case here: Bradycardia

First EKG for the case:

http://lifeinthefastlane.com/quiz-ecg-014/

Second EKG for the case:

3rd AVB

http://www.emedu.org/ecg/searchdr.php?diag=3d

CXR for the case here:

CXR

http://radiopaedia.org/

Bedside Ultrasounds for the case:

Intra-abdominal Sepsis

This case was written by Dr. Martin Kuuskne from McGill University. Dr. Kuuskne is a PGY5 Emergency Medicine resident and one of the editors-in-chief at EMSimCases.

Why it Matters

Although recent literature has challenged the use of protocolized care in the management of sepsis, this case highlights the key points that are crucial in early sepsis care, namely:

  • The recognition of sepsis and identifying a likely source of infection
  • The initiation of broad-spectrum antibiotics in the emergency department
  • Hemodynamic resuscitation with intravenous fluids and vasopressor therapy

Clinical Vignette 

You are working a day shift at a community hospital emergency department. You are handed a chart of a patient presenting with abdominal pain. You recognize the following vital signs: Heart rate 120, blood pressure 85/55, respiratory rate 20, and O2 Saturation 95%.

Case Summary

A 60-year-old male presents with a four-day history of abdominal pain secondary to cholangitis. The patient presents in septic shock requiring intravenous fluid resuscitation, empiric broad-spectrum antibiotics and vasopressor support and suffers a PEA arrest prior to disposition to advanced imaging or definitive management.

Download the case here: Cholangitis

ECG for case found here: 

Sinus tachycardia

(ECG source: http://cdn.lifeinthefastlane.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/sinus-tachycardia.jpg)

CXR for case found here: 

CXR

Ultrasound for case found here:

http://www.pocustoronto.com/wordpress/?p=264

Ruptured AAA

This case was written by Dr. Martin Kuuskne from McGill University. Dr. Kuuskne is a PGY5 Emergency Medicine resident and one of the editors-in-chief at EMSimCases.

Why it Matters

Rupture is the most common and critical complication of an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). It usually occurs into the retroperitoneum where bleeding may be temporarily limited and allows an opportunity to intervene. This case highlights three important aspects of managing a patient with a AAA rupture.

  • The use of a targeted ultrasound protocol in undifferentiated shock.
  • The concept of permissive hypotension in the treatment of a critical hemorrhage.
  • Rapid stabilization with blood products and organization for the transfer of a critically ill patient to the operating room.

Clinical Vignette 

You are working an evening shift at a tertiary care emergency department. You receive a call from a paramedic to alert you to the arrival of a 70-year old male who had a syncopal episode and was then found to be obtunded by his daughter. The patient is now in the resuscitation bay.

Case Summary

A 70-year-old male presents to the emergency department after a syncopal episode and then found to be obtunded by his daughter. He is hypotensive and tachycardic on arrival secondary to a AAA rupture into the retroperitoneal space. He requires intubation and fluid resuscitation with blood products to avoid a PEA arrest secondary to hypovolemia.

Download the case here: Ruptured AAA

ECG for case found here: 

Preintubation CXR for case found here: 

CXR

http://radiopaedia.org/images/220869

Postintubation CXR for case found here: 

Ultrasounds for case found here:

Opioid Overdose with ARDS

This case was written by Dr. Martin Kuuskne from McGill University. Dr. Kuuskne is a PGY4 Emergency Medicine resident and one of the editors-in-chief at EMSimCases.

Why it Matters

Opioid toxicity is a clinical diagnosis that should be rapidly recognized and managed. This case highlights four important aspects of a patient presenting after an opioid overdose:

  • Maintaining and addressing a wide differential diagnosis for the comatose patient.
  • Indications for and dosing of naloxone in the treatment of opioid toxicity.
  • Preoxygenation and intubation of a patient in the setting of significant hypoxemia.
  • Recognition of heroin associated acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), a rare complication of opioid toxicity.

Clinical Vignette 

You are working in a community centre emergency department. A 34-year-old male is being brought into the resuscitation bay by EMS after being found unconscious in an alley-way by bystanders who called 911. The patient was given O2 by facemask and no other therapies en-route.

Case Summary

A 34-year-old male was found unconscious in an alleyway by bystanders who called EMS. The patient presents with a clinical opioid intoxication requiring naloxone administration. The patient also presents with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) secondary to heroin use requiring airway support, intubation and mechanical ventilation.

Download the case here: Opioid Overdose with ARDS

Preintubation CXR for case found here: 

Pre-intuabtion

(CXR source: http://www.radiology.vcu.edu/programs/residents/quiz/pulm_cotw/PulmonConf/09-03-04/68yM%2008-03-04%20CXR.jpg)

Postintubation CXR for case found here:

Post intubation

(CXR source: http://courses.washington.edu/med620/images/mv_c3fig1.jpg)

ECG for case found here: 

EKG

(ECG source: http://www.emedu.org/ecg/images/sb_1a.jpg)

Lung ultrasound for case found here: 

How to develop targeted simulation learning objectives – Part 2: The Practice

In part 1 of this two part series (https://emsimcases.com/2015/04/21/how-to-develop-targeted-simulation-learning-objectives-part-1-the-theory/), we used the revised Bloom’s taxonomy to describe an approach to developing simulation-based learning objectives by targeting a specific, complex knowledge domain and a higher level cognitive process.

Now that we know the theory behind making targeted simulation learning objectives, what kind of learning objectives should be included in a team-based resuscitation simulation scenario?

Team based simulation can be used to learn and assess a variety of different components of resuscitation skills. These simulated events display the knowledge, skills and attitudes of learners in a controlled setting. What makes simulation different from other traditional models of learning is that it combines components of crisis resource management (CRM) with medical knowledge and skills into a complex educational event. Keeping this in mind, while developing objectives for a simulated scenario, it helps to separate the CRM and medical knowledge objectives. A separation of these two key components allows for targeted feedback directed at specific areas of the learners’ performance and aids in their assessment.

A common pitfall in the development of objectives for a simulated case is including too many of them! While there are a multitude of soft skills as well as medical decisions being made during the simulated event, both the learners and assessors benefit from having a limited amount of clear objectives. Debriefing after a simulation is critical for the learning experience and having too many objectives may dilute the main teaching points of the case. As an example, at the McGill University Emergency Medicine residency program, we aim for 2 CRM based objectives and 3 medical knowledge objectives. While this is in no way the rule, we have found that tailoring the case to a smaller number of clear and well-developed objectives allows for productive and high yield debriefing sessions.

Learning Objectives for a Tricyclic Antidepressant Overdose Case

Learning Objectives for a Tricyclic Antidepressant Overdose Case

As discussed in a previous post (https://emsimcases.com/2015/04/07/crisis-resource-management/), the main components of CRM include communication, leadership, resource utilization, situational awareness and problem solving.1 A case can be specifically tailored toward a CRM objective or vice versa. For example, an objective focusing on resource utilization and triage can guide the development of a simulated case with two patients in a resource-limited setting. Conversely, a simulated STEMI case can include an objective focusing on leadership and the team leader maintaining a global perspective of the case. There are no guidelines on which CRM based objectives to include, but ensuring that your cases utilize different CRM components allows your learners to focus on a few important skills at a time and ensures that your learners are exposed to each component of CRM in a simulated setting.

Medical objectives encompass the core medical content that the simulated case was designed to address. When developing the medical objective, remember to focus on a higher cognitive process, such as “applying” over “remembering”, and a higher-level knowledge domain, such as “procedural knowledge” that includes skills and algorithms. Again, there is no limit to what medical objectives you can include, as long as they are well developed and specific. When developing the medical objective for the case, it may help to take a step back and ask yourself “what do I want my learners to take away from this case?” It also helps to consider the training level of the learners, where simulation fits within your full educational curriculum as well as your setting and to develop the objectives accordingly. As an example, an airway case may contain an objective on the choice of an induction and paralytic agent for intubation for junior learners, whereas an objective on a “can’t intubate, can’t ventilate” situation may be more suitable for senior learners.

Defining learning objectives for your simulated scenarios is key for case development, debriefing and, ultimately, learning. Using theory, we can create targeted objectives that optimize the learning time spent in the simulated setting. Breaking up the objectives into CRM and medical knowledge while limiting the total number of objectives can help focus both the learner and educator on the teaching points from the case. Through careful consideration of learning objective development, simulation can be used to both fill potential gaps in you educational curriculum and to enhance the resuscitation skills, CRM skills and medical knowledge of your learners.

Take Home Points

1) Divide simulation objectives into CRM or medical objectives

2) Limit the number of objectives for each case

3) Apply theory to develop targeted and specific objectives to align them with the teaching strategy of simulation

4) Diversify your CRM objectives throughout your simulation curriculum

5) For medical objectives, ask yourself “what do I want my learners to take away from this case?”

6) Consider the training level, full training curriculum and setting when developing medical objectives.

  1. 1) Hicks CM, Kiss A, Bandiera GW, Denny CJ. Crisis Resources for Emergency Workers (CREW II): Results of a pilot study and simulation-based crisis resource management course for emergency medicine residents. Can J Emerg Med. 2012;14(Crew Ii):354-362. doi:10.2310/8000.2012.120580.