Simulation in plastic surgery: Features and uses that lead to effective learning

  • C.P.G. Nel
  • G.J. van Zyl
  • M.J. Labuschagne


Background. Increased competition for surgical exposure and practice, smaller teaching platforms and shorter training times have an impact on the quality of training and competence of plastic surgery registrars. Demands for accountability and minimising patient risks are the driving forces for incorporating simulation in healthcare education. We addressed the problem of whether the features and uses of simulation would enhance postgraduate plastic surgery education and training and ensure more effective learning.
Objective. To identify and describe: (i) how simulation impacts on student learning; therefore, how the effectiveness of learning may be enhanced in postgraduate and/or plastic surgery education and training; and (ii) which features and uses of simulation have the potential to enhance learning in plastic surgery.
Methods. A descriptive design was used for the study. Data were collected by means of semi-structured interviews with 8 national and international role players in simulation.
Results. The results indicated a positive outcome of simulation, as it provides, e.g. a non-threatening environment for learning and improves clinical competency, ensuring an increase in patient safety. The features and uses of simulation render it an excellent method to enhance learning effectiveness at different cognitive levels and to fulfil a specific role in integrated and holistic training, while providing opportunities to practise specific skills. The lack of clinical opportunities can be addressed, and more clinical exposure and practice will result in fewer medical errors.
Conclusion. Simulation-based education in postgraduate plastic surgery education and training proved to be an effective teaching- learning method, which provides solutions to current deficiencies, hindrances and gaps in health professions education. The research question was answered and the use of simulation is recommended to enhance plastic surgery education and training and promote safe patient care.


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