Experiential Education

Experiential based education is derived from the experiential learning theory which combines experience, perception, cognition and behavior. Learners acquire knowledge through the transformation of experience. Simulation allows learners to become immersed in a controlled environment for this type of transformation.

Simulation is the imitation or representation of one act or system by another. Simulations purpose is to educate and assess in facilitating patient safety. Each of these purposes may be met by some combination of standardized/simulated patients, low and high tech tools, manikins, computer-based systems, or hybrid systems that combine a physical form and a computer interface. The use of standardized/simulated patients (SPs) in medical pedagogy began in the early 1960s. However, its popularity in integrating into healthcare curriculum has accelerated over the last twenty years. Traditionally, medical students have engaged in "role-play" where, for example, one student plays the part of the doctor, the other that of the patient. What the SP does is more accurately termed "simulation." In "role-play" a person is asked to pretend to be someone else. The person in role is usually not standardized and performance may vary based on a number of attitudes and variables. On the other hand, a professional human simulator is objective and controllable and the simulation can be standardized, indeed, customized to fit particular situations stipulated by the faculty, or designer of the exercise. When simulations are standardized, the results can then be more objective, more systematic, and more uniform from one person, or session, to another. Simulation provides participants with the opportunity to work in a structured environment, and can provide immediate and objective feedback using detailed and consistent criteria.

The use of SPs allows the student to apply newly acquired skills and knowledge at the bedside in an environment that does not put an actual patient at risk. This patient centered leaning tool prepares students to become effective physicians who will have a significant positive impact on the community in which he or she practices.

Advantages to Students / Residents:

  • Availability
  • Reduction in learner anxiety
  • Educated feedback from the patient perspective
  • Authenticity
  • Consistency and accuracy
  • Focus on students' performance
  • Encouragement of active learning
  • Teach sensitive topics and examinations

Advantages for Educational Programs / Curriculum:

  • Reinforces and documents curricular goals
  • Provides feedback about teaching effectiveness
  • Requires and emphasizes defined objectives
  • Requires defined performance criteria
  • Forces critical look at curriculum
  • Allows programmatic assessment of overall curriculum

Advantages for Faculty:

  • Faculty control of content and complexity
  • Relieves faculty of time-consuming instruction and assessment of basic skills
  • Provides a reproducible, reliable experience for all students, allowing teaching and assessment of core skills
  • Provides quantitative feedback about student performance and applied skills not available through other methods