Background. The Bachelor of Emergency Medical Care (BEMC) uses clinical simulation for teaching, learning and assessing students. The voices of staff and students in understanding how simulation affects academic performance in paramedic students have not been studied before.
Objective. To understand the aspects of clinical simulation assessments that might lead to underperformance in the BEMC degree.
Methods. An exploratory qualitative approach was used in this study. Twelve focus groups and eight semi-structured interviews were conducted with students and academic staff, respectively, at the four universities that offer the BEMC in South Africa. The data were thematically analysed using NVivo 11.
Results. Five themes emerged from the study: These included: (i) environmental realism; (ii) stress during simulations; (iii) cognitive process dimension; (iv) classroom-based v. field-based practicals; and (v) static evolution of simulation practice.
Conclusion. While clinical simulation is a useful educational tool for training health professions students in patient management, there are pitfalls that result in student underperformance
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