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Simulation is firmly established within health care training but often focuses on training for technical tasks and can overlook crucial skills such as professionalism and physician-patient communication. The authors locate this paper within current developments in health care and relate it to the literature on simulation. They make the case for placing real human "patients" (played by actors) within simulation environments, thereby ensuring that the training experience remains rooted in actual practice. By practicing repeatedly within a safe environment, technical skills, communication with patients and team members, decision making, and clinical judgment may all be practiced and mastered while preserving patient safety. In elaborating this concept of patient-focused simulation (PFS), the authors draw on work already published by their group and several recent studies that are in review. These explore PFS in low, medium, and high complexity settings. Important or rare situations can be recreated and practiced, as well as key procedures required across a range of experience levels and clinical specialties. Finally, the case is made for curriculum redesign to ensure that simulator-based technical skills training and assessment take place within an authentic context that reflects the wider elements of clinical practice.

Original publication




Journal article


Acad Med

Publication Date





919 - 924


Computer Simulation, Education, Medical, Humans, Physician-Patient Relations