Student perspectives on post-simulation debriefing

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Structured debriefing is an essential part of effective learning from simulation. The advocacy–inquiry method (AIM) is a newer debriefing model where the facilitator seeks to understand the student's underlying rationale for their decisions.


We surveyed two cohorts of 21 final-year medical students who had experienced AIM debriefing during a simulation programme across two semesters. Data were collected on students' prior experience of debriefing, their perceptions of being involved in AIM, and which aspects of the curriculum they felt AIM addressed best.


The age ranged from 22 to 31 years; 74 per cent (n = 31) were female. Fifty-seven per cent (n = 24) of the group had prior experience of simulation and 88 per cent of these (n = 21) had experienced dedicated debriefing time, mainly using Pendleton's guidelines. Ninety-one per cent (n = 38) of the students felt that the area covered best using AIM was clinical assessment. Seventy-one per cent of students (n = 30) felt that they were encouraged to ‘explore and challenge [their] underlying thoughts, attitudes and beliefs’ during the debriefing. Only two students (5%) agreed with the statement that they felt uncomfortable during the debriefing exercise. Students in the second semester were less likely to want the lead clinician to ‘just tell me what to do’ (p = 0.009).


Our findings demonstrate that students perceive AIM as an acceptable method of debriefing. We suggest that the second cohort's attitudes towards being ‘told what to do’ are the result of maturing learning styles throughout their final year. The direct questioning involved is acceptable to the majority of students and we encourage the use of AIM debriefing in an undergraduate setting.

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