Simulated learning experiences incorporated into professional placements: a scoping review

Kelly Squires1, Associate Professor Leanne Brown1, Doctor Susan Heaney1,2, Associate Professor Lesley MacDonald-Wicks2, Doctor Catherine Johnston2

1University of Newcastle Department of Rural Health, Tamworth, Australia, 2University of Newcastle, Callaghan, Australia

Emerging literature continues to demonstrate the use of simulation-based learning experiences as an educational technique to prepare allied health students for professional placements. This scoping review aimed to provide a broad overview of how simulation experiences have been implemented within or immediately prior to professional placements of allied health programs. Four databases (MEDLINE, EMCARE, CINAHL and Scopus) were searched up to August 2020. Studies were extracted based on study aims, participant data, outcomes measures, key findings, limitations and simulation design. Kirkpatrick’s Evaluation Model was used to categorise outcomes and Cheng’s Simulation-Based Research Extension for the CONSORT Statement was used to appraise quality of simulation reporting. The search revealed 6584 unique abstracts with 321 full text articles reviewed. Forty-eight studies met inclusion criteria. This review showed an increasing trend towards the use of simulation-based learning experiences within or immediately prior to the professional practice placements of allied health programs. Using Kirkpatrick’s Evaluation Model to categorise outcomes, the majority of studies reported on student reaction (level 1) and learning (level 2). There was limited evidence showing how outcomes demonstrated during simulation were translated to the clinical environment (level 3) or impacted the organisation (level 4). Moving forward, more consistent reporting of simulation activities is required to strengthen the evidence base. Further research is needed to review the optimal proximity of simulation to placement and how outcomes measured in simulation can be transferred to the clinical environment.


Kelly Squires is an Accredited Practising Dietitian and Lecturer in Nutrition and Dietetics with the University Of Newcastle Department of Rural Health (UONDRH). She works predominately with dietetic students in their final year of the program. Since beginning her role with the UONDRH, she has developed a passion in preparing students for the transition from the classroom to the clinical environment. This interest led her to commence a PhD investigating the use of simulation embedded into Dietetics placement on the readiness and confidence of students.

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