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Cardiovascular Surgery Simulation: A Platform for Enhancing Teamwork and Didactic Performance for Inter-professional Learners

Katherine J. Montoya, B.S., Catherine Gutshall, D.N.A.P., C.R.N.A., Frank Spinale, Ph.D., M.D.

Simulation-based learning has proven an effective training tool in many high-risk industries such as aviation, military operation, and medicine. The value of simulation in medical education focuses on three main folds: improving technical skill, increasing interprofessional learning, and enhancing mastery of didactic material.  The preponderance of literature in simulation focuses on the former-most of these three pillars, while this study focuses on the latter two. Two cohorts of 5-6 students participated in a simulation that tested their knowledge of pressure-volume loops in cardiac physiology. In each group, at least two of the following medical professions were represented: students from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine’s MD, CRNA, or PA programs. The simulation was designed to encourage teamwork as students worked together to make clinical decisions for their patient as well as answer questions regarding the physiology that underpinned and explained their patient’s presentation. Participants were given identical pre- and post-tests to evaluate the efficacy of the simulation’s capacity to enhance didactic learning. Moreover, students completed a survey which evaluated their qualitative experience in interprofessional learning as well as opinions regarding the prospect of simulation in their respective curricula.  Where n=11, the average pre-test score was 63%, while the average post-test score was 68% (p=.056). The average improvement from pre- to post-tests was 5%. Notably, the mode participant response reflected strong agreement that the simulation provided a helpful opportunity to gain insight and respect for the professions represented by counterpart cohort participants. Moreover, participants overwhelmingly favored the integration of simulation similar in style and content to this simulation in their respective academic programs. Statistical significance is anticipated with the addition of future cohorts to the data set. 

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