Center for Immersive and Simulation-based Learning


Types of Learning - Decision Making

Healthcare personnel apply their foundation of knowledge to the information gained about patients through medical history, physical examination, and laboratory testing to make important decisions about treatment and prognosis. Decision making is the heart of the clinical care process. Yet decision making is very complicated and hard to learn. This is true in all clinical settings but especially in those settings in which decisions are complex and involve substantial discussion with patients (e.g. choosing the right course of action to treat cancer) or in those settings, such as the operating room, intensive care unit, or emergency department, where decisions must be made and implemented in seconds or minutes, not in hours or days.

Types of Learning - Decision Making

Simulation techniques allow individuals and teams to practice making complex decisions under conditions of uncertainty, dynamism, and risk without any harm coming to a real patient should they err. Moreover, simulated patients can present ­– in a highly realistic manner – all the streams of information (from ECG tracing to invasive blood pressures to laboratory or x-ray scans) that need to be integrated to adapt treatment to the patient’s changing needs and conditions since the simulated patients will respond (for better or worse) to the decisions made and therapies implemented. Using simulation it is possible to present routine conditions and situations as needed OR to present the uncommon but life-threatening situations that require the greatest speed and alacrity to save the patient.

Types of Learning - Decision Making
All healthcare workers make decisions in patient care, whether they result directly in changing treatment or collect new information or summon others for advice and assistance. Thus, the ability to practice, challenge, and probe decision making abilities are crucial to advancing patient care for doctors, nurses, and allied health professionals, whether students or highly seasoned clinicians.


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