Veterinary High-Stakes Immersive Simulation Training With Repeat Practice Following Structured Debriefing Improves Students’ Ability to Cope With High-Pressure Situations

veterinary and medical education

Kristina Pollock.

Jill R. D. MacKay

Stephen Hearns

Carolyn Morton

Patrick John Pollock


January 10, 2024

Immersive simulation is used increasingly in medical education, and there is increasing awareness of the impact of simulation scenarios on emotional state and cognitive load and how these impact learning. There is growing awareness of the requirement to equip veterinarians with skills for managing high-pressure environments and provide training on human factors. Veterinary students participated in a high-fidelity immersive simulation of a road traffic collision involving multiple casualties. The students took part in the same simulation twice, the second time after a debrief. Each participant’s emotional state and cognitive load were assessed after participating in each simulation. Each participant was asked to score the effect of pressure on their performance. One hundred twenty-five students participated and demonstrated a higher cognitive load with more positive emotional states during the second scenario after the completion of a structured debrief and discussion focusing on pressure relief techniques (cognitive load - μ Scenario run 1 = 4.44 ± 1.85 [SD], μ Scenario2 = 5.69 ± 1.74 [SD]). Most (63%) participants described being in a low-performance state of frazzle during the first scenario compared with most (61%) who described being in a high-performance state of flow during the second. Immersive simulation scenarios, with structured debriefing, may allow the measurement of emotional state and cognitive load in participants. Furthermore, this study suggests that curriculum training in human factors and pressure relief techniques, coupled with immersive simulation and debrief, may improve future performance in high-stakes and high-pressure scenarios.