Lesson planning & Scenario Development

How do you plan a lesson?

Lesson planning plays a significant role within simulation and you will find nearly every session delivered will have a scenario template associated with it. A lesson plan within the medical education literature looks a little different but the rationale is the same.

Why bother with Lesson Planning?

There are many reasons why but namely you will have a greater understanding about who, what, why & how best to provide teaching to individuals to deliver effective learning.

Think about GO ACES [Ref 7]:

Goals - Objectives Assessment - Content - Energize - Strategies
Start with your goals (what the teacher aims to accomplish - elevator pitch ideas), aims & objectives (what the learner will be able to do - think SMART). Next, and most importantly, how will you know whether the learners have met the objectives?

What prior knowledge is required as a baseline prior to the session, what is the shortest & simplest way to deliver the information and how can you motivate learners (intrinsically vs. extrinsically) to engage with the content? What strategies could be employed to facilitate this?

Therefore for any lesson plan consider the following:

Title, Date, Time, Session Length, Room Booking

Audience - stage, experience, numbers

Rationale for the session / background with reference to any curriculum & your goals

Learning Objectives [Less is More]

Timings of Content

Resources, IT, Feedback etc...

An example lesson plan template is available here.

So what about Scenario Templates?

Simulation scenarios are essentially a storyboard of both the patient's and participants journeys. In this sense, they contain all the information about how the scenario should unfold.

Typically starting with similar elements to the lesson plan - title, date, time, session length, room bookings, audience, background, learning objectives...

But with the addition of stooges/actors, sim tech, IT requirements / AV setup, manikin preferences, moulage, environmental arrangements, resources and more...

They then progress onto the pre-brief's clinical vignette, and the classic full medical history thereafter - Presenting Complaint (PC), History Presenting Complaint (HPC), Past Medical History (PMH), Drug History and Allergies (DH/A), Social History (SH) with/without Family History (FH).

Designers will then be required to consider examination and observation findings in the patient's baseline state - i.e. Heart Rate (HR), Blood pressure (BP), Respiratory Rate (RR), Saturations (SpO2) & associated oxygen requirements, Temperature and Blood Glucose. Then, depending on the functionality of the manikin, defining descriptors for eyes/nose/mouth, airway, lung sounds, heart sounds, bowel sounds, presence/absence of seizures...

Following the baseline state, each subsequent phase of the story must be mapped out with all potential treatment avenues considered and accounted for, appropriate, sub-optimal and inappropriate options. In this sense there must always be a clear end point and opportunities for escape routes if required.

In addition to the above, all interruptions (phone calls, bleeps, etc...) or stooge/actor interactions (On-call consultant, Nurse, junior healthcare staff) must be fully detailed, including overall moods and specific scripts/dialogue.

A full review of scenario design considerations is available here.

More learning resources are available below:


  1. How to design a comprehensive lesson plan - https://www.mededworld.org/getattachment/MedEdWorld-Papers/Papers-Items/How-to-design-a-comprehensive-lesson-plan/How-to-design-a-comprehensive-lesson-plan-DOI.pdf

  2. Tips for GP trainees interested in medical education - https://bjgp.org/content/63/617/e859

  3. Lesson planning and the student teacher: re‐thinking the dominant model - https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00220270500363620?src=recsys&journalCode=tcus20

  4. ABC of learning and teaching in medicine - https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/polopoly_fs/1.779084!/file/ABCCurriculumDesign.pdf

  5. Teaching the teachers: ways of improving teaching and identifying areas for development - https://ard.bmj.com/content/59/10/760

  6. Microteaching, an efficient technique for learning effective teaching - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3724377/

  7. Designing and Delivering an Effective Lesson - https://www.mededportal.org/doi/10.15766/mep_2374-8265.9106

  8. https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/clinical-supervision-teaching-facilitating/0/steps/31910

  9. https://qmplus.qmul.ac.uk/pluginfile.php/1341136/mod_page/content/29/lesson%20planning.pdf?time=1549982733126

  10. How to Write a Simulation Scenario - https://cha.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/2.2-How-to-Write-a-Simulation-Scenario.pdf

  11. Designing a Simulation Scenario - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK547670/

  12. Designing and implementing full immersion simulation as a research tool - https://core.ac.uk/reader/82416848

  13. https://www.healthysimulation.com/19834/simulation-scenario-development-checklist/

  14. INACSL Standards of Best Practice: Simulation Design - https://www.nursingsimulation.org/article/S1876-1399%2816%2930126-8/fulltext

  15. https://litfl.com/simulation-scenario-design/

  16. https://cisl.stanford.edu/design-a-program/create-an-effective-curriculum/scenario-design.html

  17. https://uhra.herts.ac.uk/bitstream/handle/2299/9334/904785.pdf?sequence=1