Simulation-Based Education (SBE) is a widely used educational tool in healthcare, but with a skew to secondary care. Our work is part of a growing movement to bring the benefits of SBE into primary care . There is an expanding and diversifying number of staff groups in general practice, with the potential to bring additional expertise and experience to benefit primary care patients; notably the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme is bringing new paramedics, pharmacists, physiotherapists, physician’s associates, and social prescribers, among others, into the traditional primary care workforce. There have been significant challenges in embedding these new roles, creating a sense of belonging, forming new ways of multi-disciplinary working, as well as understanding of their strengths and training needs . The aim of the programme is to build a sustainable local network of simulation practitioners to continue to deliver in-situ simulations to the general practice teams. This will contribute to the training and education of clinicians, improving patient experience and safety, and embracing the broadening and expanding primary care workforce.
We are training a network of ‘Simulation Ambassadors’ to work in local Primary Care Networks – clusters of practices serving up to 100,000 patients – to bring SBE to primary care teams, enabling training and education targeted to local needs, in multidisciplinary settings, including established and new staff groups. This has the intended benefit of allowing focused training sessions in GP practices, fostering closer working relationships between members of different staff groups while sharing knowledge and learning between these different groups.
6 ‘Simulation Ambassadors’ have received training to deliver and debrief simulation sessions and are further supported by a Primary Care Simulation Fellow, who provides resources, mentoring, and fosters a community of practice. The simulation sessions cover a range of topics including ‘acute’ scenarios (e.g. the unwell patient in a waiting room), as well as scenarios focused on consultation and communication skills (e.g. safeguarding, explanations and diagnoses of chronic pain conditions, paediatric asthma management).
We have encountered several challenges during this process, including the novelty and unfamiliarity of simulation in primary care, and the difficulty of asking already stretched staff to dedicate time, either as educators or learners, away from direct clinical care. As the programme rolls out, we intend to demonstrate the value of simulation as an educational medium and will encourage wider use locally within Primary Care.
1. Akram M and Ismail F. Simulation training in primary care. InnovAiT. 2017;10(12):765–767.
2. Baird B, Lamming L, Beech J, Bhatt R, Dale V. Integrating additional roles into primary care networks, Kings Fund report, 2022.