Developing an integrated national simulation-based educational programme for Scottish junior doctors through structured, multi-step action research cycles

Neil Harrison (Lead / Corresponding author), Ashley Dennis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
37 Downloads (Pure)


Objectives: Simulation is widely employed to teach a range of skills, across healthcare professions and is most effective when embedded within a standarised curriculum. Although recommended by many governing bodies, establishing a national programme of simulation presents many challenges. Successful implementation requires a clear understanding of the priorities and needs of those it seeks to serve yet there are limited examples of how best to do this. This study aimed to develop an integrated national simulation- based educational programme for junior doctors in Scotland through a structed, multistep prioritisation process.

Design: A series of action research cycles were undertaken to develop and evaluate a national simulation programme. This paper describes cycle 1, which employed a six- step structured approach to understand and prioritise learner needs.

Setting: The study considered the educational needs of Scottish junior doctors in the UK Foundation Programme (UKFP).

Participants: Multiple stakeholder groups were involved in each stage of the process including recent Scottish UKFP graduates, clinical educators, UKFP programme directors and postgraduate deans.

Results: Key stakeholders reviewed the 370 competencies in the UKFP curriculum and identified 18 initial competency areas. These 18 areas were subsequently prioritised through the analytical hierarchy process, resulting in a carefully ordered list of 12 competencies from which a targeted simulation- based educational programme could be developed.

Conclusions: To our knowledge, this is the first study to outline the methods of competency prioritisation to create a simulation curriculum that is integrated within a national curriculum in the medical education context. As well as demonstrating the practical steps of such a process, key implications for practice are identified. This robust approach to educational design also resulted in unexpected benefits, including educator and clinician acceptance and programme funding sustainability.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere059229
Number of pages10
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number8
Early online date24 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - 24 Aug 2022


  • EDUCATION & TRAINING (see Medical Education & Training)
  • GENERAL MEDICINE (see Internal Medicine)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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