Exploring the effectiveness of an on-site simulation-based primary care learning programme for undergraduate medical students.

Eimear O' Reilly, Ciara Mcmeel, Niamh Murphy, John Frizelle, Nia Clendennen, Walter Cullen

Keywords: Simulation, General Practice, Undergraduate teaching, primary care


Lack of GP practices for student placements is becoming an increasing challenge in medical education due to widespread shortage of GP’s in Ireland and increasing student numbers. GP placements form a crucial part of student learning therefore innovative methods of exposing students to general practice must be implemented to ensure they achieve their learning outcomes. Simulated- based learning is an effective solution to this problem as it allows for larger number of students to gain exposure to general practice in one clinical setting.


Twelve students were invited to attend a simulated-based learning programme based in a GP practice in Dublin. The five-day programme consisted of clinical skills workshops involving mannikins, history-taking/ communication scenarios and data recording/interpretation sessions using simulated online GP IT software. The effectiveness of the programme was assessed via feedback from student via an anonymous survey upon completion of the simulated-based learning programme.


Nine students completed the survey (75% response rate). They were asked to rate how useful they found each session on a likert scale of 1 to 7. 7 indicating extremely useful and 1 not useful. On average, the students rated the various sessions as 6.6 out of 7 in terms of usefulness. Students were also questioned on their overall experience of the programme; 77% strongly agreed it helped them achieve the modules learning outcomes and 88.8% strongly agreed it prepared them for their upcoming GP placement. On a scale of 1 to 7, (7 indicating strongly agree), the average score was 6 when questioned if the experience encouraged them to consider a career in general practice.


An onsite simulated-based learning programme is an effective and efficient method of exposing students to general practice with the additional benefit of promoting GP as a future career for undergraduate medical students.

Points for discussion:

Use of simulated based learning as an adjunct to or replacement for clinical placement to alleviate burden of sourcing GP placements?

Is there a need for advancements in digital technology to enhance simulated experience, for example virtual reality (VR) experiences.

Is simulated based learning as effective as on-site clinical placement? Does it have a role in teaching empathy via VR experiences


EURACT Twitter Feed
EURACT Facebook Feed