Post simulation debriefing

Post simulation debriefing is an essential component of the simulation based education learning activity, where by the facilitator guides the participants through an evidenced based approach to facilitate consolidation of the simulations aim and goals.

The post simulation debriefing space needs to be set in a safe and private learning environment where participants are facing one another to share thoughts and insights without risk of reprisal or humiliation.

Effective debriefing is key to learning from the clinically simulated context, validated methods such as ‘Debriefing for Meaningful Learning’ DML™ or ‘Gather Analyse Summarise’ GAS™ are examples utilised to guide participant dialogue. The approach is important to begin by allowing participants to let go of emotions, have every person involved in the discussion as a facilitator, use words and body language to bring the focus to the debrief, bring the discussion to ‘what happened’.

Ensure all participants are on the same page in regard to the aim of the simulation therefore meaningful critical thought processes can begin about why decisions were made, what assessments were carried out and what outcomes came from these.

Facilitators must craft questions to advocate on behalf of the participant whilst also exploring why certain interventions or decisions were made. Use Socratic dialog to spark deeper thought processes for example:  Tell me more about that?  What did this mean to you?  When you saw that what did you think about?

Ensure learners actions and thinking match, many times they do the right things for the wrong reasons, peel back the layers as far as you can to explore thought processes.

As a facilitator challenge participants assumptions, acknowledge and expand their thinking and actions. Make evident thinking like a clinician, inspire a spirit of inquisitive reflective thinking. 

Encourage learner thinking to individualise care to the needs of the patient at the same time applying consistency of care across populations. The ultimate goal of debriefing is to encourage participants to personally reflect on their approach to clinical practice and inspire improvement.


Therese Worme is an educator for La Trobe Rural Health School.