The purpose of this study was to assess the effect of low-fidelity simulation on students' confidence, knowledge, and skills in pediatric physical assessments, and to compare students' interest ratings of topics and effectiveness of learning activities between students' who experienced simulation and those who did not.
Within a pediatric elective, a vital signs and physical assessment activity was re-designed to incorporate a low-fidelity heart and breath sounds simulator. Students rated their confidence in completing 9 different physical assessment skills before and after the activity and assessment. Students' perspectives of the activity were also assessed. Course evaluation surveys were compared with prior course offerings (without simulation) to determine a change in students' interest ratings of the topic and effectiveness of learning activities. The Wilcoxon signed rank test, thematic analysis, and descriptive statistics were used to analyze outcomes.
All 106 second professional year students in the elective completed the pre- and post-simulation surveys and course evaluations for 3 offerings. Students' post-simulation average confidence scores increased statistically on all 9 skills compared with pre-simulation scores. All students agreed or strongly agreed “the lecture and simulation activity done in class helped me overcome challenges I had with learning the skill.” Students (98%) successfully demonstrated competency on the formal assessment. Compared with previous course offerings, students reported higher interest ratings in the topics and instruction effectiveness when simulation was incorporated into the activity.
Low-fidelity simulation is an effective teaching and learning approach to increase students' confidence, knowledge, and interest in pediatric vital signs and physical assessment.