Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Appears in Collections:Faculty of Social Sciences Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Learning to manage complexity through simulation: students' challenges and possible strategies
Author(s): Gormley, Gerard J
Fenwick, Tara
Keywords: Complexity
Medical students
Issue Date: Jun-2016
Citation: Gormley GJ & Fenwick T (2016) Learning to manage complexity through simulation: students' challenges and possible strategies, Perspectives on Medical Education, 5 (3), pp. 138-146.
Abstract: Many have called for medical students to learn how to manage complexity in healthcare. This study examines the nuances of students’ challenges in coping with a complex simulation learning activity, using concepts from complexity theory, and suggests strategies to help them better understand and manage complexity.  Wearing video glasses, participants took part in asimulation ward-based exercise that incorporated characteristics of complexity. Video footage was used to elicit interviews, which were transcribed. Using complexity theory as atheoretical lens, an iterative approach was taken to identify the challenges that participants faced and possible coping strategies using both interview transcripts and video footage.  Students’ challenges in coping with clinical complexity included being: a)unprepared for ‘diving in’, b)caught in an escalating system, c)captured by the patient, and d)unable to assert boundaries of acceptable practice.  Many characteristics of complexity can be recreated in award-based simulation learning activity, affording learners an embodied and immersive experience of these complexity challenges. Possible strategies for managing complexity themes include: a)taking time to size up the system, b)attuning to what emerges, c)reducing complexity, d)boundary practices, and e)working with uncertainty. This study signals pedagogical opportunities for recognizing and dealing with complexity.
DOI Link:
Rights: © The Author(s) 2016 This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
10.1007_2Fs40037-016-0275-3.pdf332.16 kBAdobe PDFView/Open

This item is protected by original copyright

Items in the Repository are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.

If you believe that any material held in STORRE infringes copyright, please contact providing details and we will remove the Work from public display in STORRE and investigate your claim.