Think You Know Debriefing? The Basics

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How effective are your simulation debriefing skills? What challenges do you face? Are you meeting your training goals? What can AV do to enhance your debriefing process?

In our four-part blog series on debriefing, we’ll help you get the most out of your debriefing time for better learner outcomes and improved patient care.

The Basics

Harvard University’s Center for Medical Simulation defines debriefing as “a conversation among two or more people to review a simulated event or activity in which participants explore, analyze and synthesize their actions and thought processes, emotional states and other information to improve performance in real situations.”

And according to Drs. Stormy Morales Monks and Scott Barnett Crawford (Texas Tech University El Paso), debriefing is a core element of simulation-based education.

Dr. Crawford stresses that without debriefing, there’s no place for self-reflection, contextualization, or the ability to integrate existing knowledge with the experience of the simulation. Debriefing helps to enhance learners’ critical thinking skills and advance their clinical knowledge. With your guidance as a facilitator, learners can critically assess why they took a particular action and adjust their behavior as needed.

When you’re performing a debrief, make sure you’ve established a learner-centric, psychologically safe environment. Learners often become emotionally invested in the simulated event – take your time and help the learner understand that it’s necessary to risk failure in order to gain new skills. With objective, constructive feedback, you can address gaps in knowledge or specific aspects of the learner’s performance, and relate it to their own context and understanding of the event.

Ask a coworker to review your technique, send a video of your debriefing to a mentor, review your own performance, or even ask your learners for feedback. Even if you’ve never been formally trained to perform debriefing, you can continuously work to build your skills!


Learn more about debriefing in “Simulation Debriefing: Why Do We Talk About It?” — a free webinar presented by the Global Institute for Simulation Training and EMS.

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