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What sort of patient? Manikins and other simulators

Another alternative is to use models and simulators such as ‘Harvey’© the cardiac simulator, anaesthetic, obstetric or ambulance simulators or computer-based technologies which allow virtual surgery and other techniques.

Ker and Bradley (2007, p. 5) summarise the potential applications of such simulation as follows:

  • routine learning and rehearsal of clinical and communication skills at all levels
  • routine basic training of individuals and teams
  • practice of complex clinical situations
  • training of teams in crisis resource management or in delivering new care pathways
  • rehearsal of serious and/or rare events
  • rehearsal of planned, novel or infrequent interventions
  • induction into new clinical environments and use of equipment
  • design and testing of new clinical equipment
  • performance assessment of staff at all levels
  • refresher training of staff at all levels.


The development and availability of clinical skills laboratories, training wards, emergency settings, virtual reality, synthetic simulators and multimedia learning technologies have enabled health professionals at all levels to develop both basic and advanced clinical skills and techniques. This not only helps to overcome the moral and ethical issues concerned with practising on real patients, cadavers or animals, but also has practical benefits in enabling learners to practise, learn from mistakes and have access to clinical situations where there are service pressures to optimise time, such as in operating theatres. Ultimately, well-planned learning using simulation helps to reduce clinical error and risk by enhancing competence and confidence.

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