How to Get Better Recall From Simulation

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Written by Clay Smith

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A five minute break before the debrief for a simulation session helped residents with long-term memory of the teaching points vs a group in which there was no break before the debrief.

Why does this matter?
Simulation is a great way to learn.  Part of what embeds the memory is the stress of the sim scenario.  But too much stress impairs memory retention.  What is the best way to retain learning from these sessions?  Relax...I'll tell you.

Just relax...
This was a RCT of 149 anesthesia residents who had a simulation session.  Half were given a 5-minute break before the debrief, during which 5 case-specific learning points were made.  The other half had no break but went right into the debrief.  Otherwise, the sessions were the same.  At 3 months, 71% (52/73) of the group with the 5-minute break recalled at least 3 of the 5 learning points vs only 46% (35/76) of those who did not have a break.  Notably, the break only helped retention for the scenarios in which the residents actively participated.  It didn't help retention for scenarios in which they observed.  This is such a simple way to improve retention and memory and costs little in the way of time - that's 5 minutes well spent to gain a 25% increase in memory retention.

Relaxation before Debriefing during High-fidelity Simulation Improves Memory Retention of Residents at Three Months: A Prospective Randomized Controlled Study.  Anesthesiology. 2018 Mar;128(3):638-649. doi: 10.1097/ALN.0000000000002045.

Another Spoonful
Did you know there was an entire #FOAMed blog called EM Sim Cases?  Why reinvent the wheel? Find vetted EM-relevant sim cases on their blog.

Peer reviewed by Thomas Davis.

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