Running a scenario

How do you run a scenario?

Everyone will have their own preferred way of running a scenario and there are a huge number of variables which will impact how each sessions plays out. This can be one of the attractive, and equally terrifying, elements of a simulation in that no two sessions are the same.

The main components which influence how a scenario will unfold includes:

  • Time of day

  • The Participants - their readiness, their experience level, their clinical commitments around the scenario

  • The actions of the participant(s) during the scenario

  • Dynamics / relationships during the debrief

  • If in situ - environmental variables - clinical demand / availability, emergencies, the weather...

For example:

  • Novice learners with no prior simulation experience may need a full session in the "pre-brief" phase - exploring the manikin, showing them an example sepsis scenario stage by stage showing how to interact with the manikin and resources, while debriefing in a similar way to 'normal'.

  • For expert learners with frequent sims, the pre-brief & scenario may last 5 minutes each leaving a significant time to debrief in greater detail, or the opportunity for repetition and practice of parts of the scenario.

  • Alternatively, a learner may misinterpret information and manage a different condition in the scenario or start to do something dangerous, in which, thinking on your feet to correct this quickly can be difficult.

So what makes an effective session and what timings should be adhered to?

That is a big question with no straightforward answer - from the realms of medical education the best way to ensure a teaching session runs well is with a lesson plan.

  1. Create a draft timetable within the lesson plan

  2. Consider the goals, aims & learning objectives

  3. Write the scenario - remember, complexity adds time - as a rough rule of thumb your debrief should be 2-3 times the length of the scenario (KISS - keep it simple - stupid)

  4. Determine faculty & stooge support & consider what information they need

  5. Test your scenarios and adjust as required - you may find certain parts take longer than you imagined!

  6. Think about escape routes - don't always rely on the med reg "magically" turning up, think about several ways the scenario could end and when the "right point" is

  7. Use the right manikin for the right job - more complex manikins might slow learners down as they try to find more

INACSL have produced simfographics covering this an more and are available here.

See our Scenario Templates for examples.

More learning resources are available below: