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Future directions

Policy agendas from government and professional bodies have endorsed, promoted and funded patient simulation on a widespread scale. As well as helping to ensure patient safety and reduce error, simulation is also seen as an alternative means of learners acquiring clinical skills without spending time in an increasingly overcrowded clinical environment. Educators must therefore be attentive to such agendas and ensure that simulation is complementary to learning in the clinical workplace and that learning in each context is relevant to achieving defined outcomes and developing safe, competent practitioners.

Technological changes are now enabling more integrated multimedia simulations such as the use of handheld devices, portable simulators and further development of virtual reality simulators. With such technology, it is likely that simulation (in all its forms, including computer-based simulation) will become even more integrated into curricula and embedded into education and training programmes.

Opportunities for more interprofessional learning around non-technical skills and teamworking are also likely to increase as more centres offer such learning opportunities, although more evidence is required as to the efficacy of such training.  Simulation has also been used to support new ways of working (Forrest, McKimm and Edgar, 2013). As health and social services change towards more integrated, patient-led approaches, we may therefore see more use of simulation to support their introduction.

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