The effectiveness of high fidelity human patient simulation in neuroscience and neuropharmacology teaching - a pilot study

Alistair MacDonald, Ian Morrison, Jeremy Charles Morse, Iain Rowe, Alison Strath, Derek Anthony Scott

Research output: Contribution to conferenceUnpublished paperpeer-review


Background Few institutions use high-fidelity human simulators (HFHS) to teach basic physiological or pharmacological concepts as well as clinical scenarios (Harris et al., 2011). Simulation may be a useful replacement for traditional laboratory experiments given that many of these concepts may be difficult to demonstrate on healthy human subjects. This project aimed to pilot use of existing HFHS with a group of science undergraduates to assess if they could improve student understanding during science problem-solving tutorials. Specific idea or innovation suggested An interactive problem solving tutorial focussing on the physiology of the autonomic nervous system was developed, involving nine volunteers with no clinical training (five science students and four academics). Participants worked through a simulated physiological event using a METIman simulator. Cholinesterase poisoning was used to alter autonomic function during the simulation and participants had to discuss the physiological events and suggest interventions. Volunteers completed an anonymous questionnaire to assess various aspects of the activity. Observed or expected improvements or impact Results from the questionnaire are shown in Figure 1: Question Group Mean Student Mean Staff Mean How interesting compared to traditional tutorial? 9.6 9.6 9.5 Enhances scientific concepts? 8.8 9.0 8.5 Understanding of autonomic physiology/pharmacology? 8.0 8.2 7.8 Usefulness if integrated into lecture courses? 9.3 9.2 9.3 Overall presentation of this simulation lesson? 8.9 9.2 8.5 Figure 1: Mean Likert scores (1-10) from anonymous questionnaire during science simulation project (n=9 (5 students, 4 staff), higher score represents more favourable response). Free text comments indicated that students liked observing ’real-life’ applications of the science they learned, but wanted less choice during the simulation to minimise feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of interventions they could suggest. Staff provided many ideas as to how this technology could be integrated with current science teaching to improve classes. Key take home messages This pilot study showed that high-fidelity simulators could improve education for science students in many institutions as well as for clinical students. Participants were engaged and positive about integration with science teaching. Guidance and familiarisation with the simulator is required during such activities with science students/staff to reduce their apprehension, but the interactive nature of the simulation was appreciated. This pilot will be used as a tutorial with ~100 science students in early 2015 to obtain further data. References Harris, J., Helyer, R. & Lloyd, E. (2011). Using high-fidelity human patient simulators to teach physiology’. Medical Education, 45: 1159 – 1160.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2015
EventScottish Clinical Skills Network Annual Conference 2015 - Easterbrook Hall, Dumfries, United Kingdom
Duration: 1 May 20151 May 2015 (Link to Conference Information 2015)


ConferenceScottish Clinical Skills Network Annual Conference 2015
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • high fidelity
  • simulation
  • neuroscience
  • neuropharmacology
  • education
  • student
  • practical class
  • practical skills
  • assessment


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