Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

Online simulation effectively teaches introductory disaster triage skills to medical students

Creative Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license

Learning Objectives: To use online simulation to teach disaster triage skills to medical students.

Background: Practicing disaster triage teaches skills of rapid patient evaluation. Triage simulation (with structured debriefing) results in improved accuracy in pediatric residents and improved confidence in medical students. Screen-based simulation of disaster triage improved triage accuracy in prehospital providers, and virtual reality (VR) simulation improved medical student triage skills. Few studies have evaluated online simulation to teach disaster triage skills to medical students.

Design: In May 2021, 15 final-year medical students engaged with online simulation to practice triaging respiratory disease outbreak patients. Students submitted personal reflections and participated in a faculty-led debrief. In October 2021, 9 additional students participated.

Outcomes: 14/15 students completed an anonymous post-course survey. Students found the exercise “very” or “extremely” helpful for learning, on a 5-point Likert scale, with a mean of 4.4 (SD+/- 0.8). Students rated their pre-exercise competency as “beginner” or “proficient” on a 4-point rubric (mean of 1.5). Most students rated their post-exercise competency as “proficient” (mean 2.8). Average increase in self-reported competency was 1.3 points, yielding a large effect size (Cohen’s d). 8/9 October students rated the simulation a 4.6 on a 5-point Likert scale (5 = extremely helpful for learning).

Strengths: This module overcomes resource limitations of live and VR simulation, and can be completed asynchronously anywhere.

Limitations: Participants need internet access. The debrief requires a facilitator skilled in disaster triage and debriefing. Assessment of effectiveness included neither triage accuracy/speed, nor comparability to live simulation/VR.

Feasibility and transferability: This innovation is freely accessible online. Future development will allow learners to select their experience level, for simplified or complex cases. Open source code allows anyone to develop their own adaptation.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View