Enhancement of plastic surgery training by including simulation in education and training programmes

C P G Nel, G J van Zyl, M J Labuschagne


Background. This research investigated the possibility of integrating simulation in plastic surgery residency training. The problem addressed was the lack of knowledge about using simulation as a teaching method to enhance the training of plastic surgeons. There was a lack of empirical evidence regarding learning outcomes that could be mastered by simulation-based education and training and their specific cognitive levels.

Objectives. To identify and describe: (i) learning outcomes for plastic surgery education and training for which simulation might be an important (essential and useful) training method; and (ii) simulation modalities, linked to specific cognitive levels, to establish the influence of simulation on plastic surgery education and training. The objectives entail determining the importance of simulation in plastic surgery training and identifying simulation modalities most suited to attain specific outcomes.

Methods. Data were collected by means of a Delphi survey to obtain consensus from an expert panel comprising 9 plastic surgeons, supplemented by semi-structured interviews conducted with 8 national and international role players in simulation and postgraduate education.

Results. Learning outcomes, levels of training, possible simulation modalities, cognitive levels and descriptive verbs and phrases were described, as these pertain to learning. Participants agreed that simulation in medical education can be used to enhance postgraduate plastic surgery training, with special reference to specific outcomes and cognitive levels. Participants made recommendations for the planning and support of the implementation, aimed at ensuring the quality of training.

Conclusion. The objectives set were achieved and the results of the study serve as encouragement and guidance in the striving for the enhancement of postgraduate plastic surgery education and training, and in other medical disciplines.

Authors' affiliations

C P G Nel, Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa

G J van Zyl, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa

M J Labuschagne, School of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa

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Plastic surgery education and training; Simulation; Learning outcomes; Cognitive levels

Cite this article

African Journal of Health Professions Education 2020;12(2):68-73. DOI:10.7196/AJHPE.2020.v12i2.1182

Article History

Date submitted: 2020-07-07
Date published: 2020-07-07

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