Scenario Design

Scenario design is all about choices. At each decision point, you should reflect on the pros and cons of designing your scenario in that particular way. You will also need to consider the constraints of the system within which you work. This is by no means an exhaustive explanation of scenario design. It simply aims to start you thinking about the various aspects that you will need to consider. If you would like to learn more, you might consider attending our Simulation Instructor Course.

Design Frameworks

Before you start designing your scenario, you might find it helpful to clarify the following questions:

  • WHO are the participants? Are they individuals or teams? Will it be a single discipline or multidisciplinary activity?
  • WHAT is the purpose of the simulation? What are the objectives of the scenario, and what is the simplest way to achieve these?
  • WHEN is the ideal timing? Will it be an announced or an unannounced activity? Will it run once, or repeated?
  • WHERE is the best location? In a simulation center? In-situ?
  • WHY is it useful? Will it be a real case, a new protocol, practice improvement, or something else?

Choosing a Simulation Strategy

You will need to consider which simulation strategy, or combination of strategies will you use. These might include role play, immersive games, task training, standardized patients, immersive high fidelity simulation, or in-situ simulation.

Specific Considerations for High-fidelity Mannequin-based Simulations

You will need to:

  • Craft a story/narrative or a case stem for the simulation.
  • Determine the setting for the simulation, and any moulage or that we be needed for the mannequin.
  • Choose what (if any) information you will provide to the participants about the case before they enter the simulation and how you will deliver the information to them.
  • Determine how the scenario will begin. Who will be in the room? What will the starting vitals be? Will the patient(s) have monitors attached?
  • Decide which props (e.g. simulated medications), equipment (e.g. ultrasound), and help (e.g. additional staff, phone consultation) will be available to the participants.
  • Choose whether you want to use any media. This might include chest xrays, EKGs, and lab results.
  • Plan the scenario progression. Anticipate the learner’s decision branch points, and the interventions or actions they might take
  • Decide whether you will have confederate roles, and who will play them.
  • Think about when and how you will end the scenario.
  • There are some additional pedagogical choices such as the use of time compression or time dilation, severity modulation, and debriefing.

Scenario Template

Our scenario template can be used to help guide you through this process.