Being a facilitator: Debriefing after simulation

Macdiarmid, Rachel
Zambas, Shelaine
Smythe, Liz
Item type
Degree name
Doctor of Health Science
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Auckland University of Technology

This study aimed to gain insight into what it is like to facilitate debriefing following an experience of simulated learning. A simulated learning experience is most often structured in three stages: prebrief, the simulation scenario and the debrief. The context of this research is the health care setting. The nature of simulation was high fidelity, most often situated in a simulation suite. Hermeneutic phenomenology, influenced by Heidegger [1889-1976] and Gadamer [1900-2002], was used to discover what it is like to be a facilitator. Heidegger’s phenomenological approach is interested in uncovering that which is hidden. van Manen highlighted the everydayness of the phenomenon under study. He described how in phenomenology the researcher wonders about what the everyday phenomenon is like (van Manen, 1990). In this study, I sought to uncover that which tends to be unspoken about the everyday experience of debriefing Ten participants were interviewed to seek understanding into what it is like to facilitate a debrief following a high fidelity simulation exercise. The facilitators shared experiences of how they conducted different debriefing scenarios. Data was also collected from two participants who were recipients of the debrief experience. Findings are revealed in three chapters which, together, tell the story of the beginning, the unfolding and how the debrief ends, yet continues. This study reveals that facilitating the debrief is to stay focused on learning. Learning is the all-embracing driver. Learning is what facilitators are always working toward. Facilitating can be fraught with moments of silence or a mood of participants not-wanting-to-be there. To establish a space of trust that encourages thinking, facilitators begin by sharing expectations and setting ground rules. Throughout the time allocated they are alongside participants; guiding, supporting and encouraging learning. They gently nurture conversation through the ‘woods’ into a space or ‘clearing’ where participants can dwell in thinking. Facilitators’ own learning does not finish when the debrief ends, rather it is cyclical. One debrief informs the next. When they start the next simulated learning experience they bring their experience-based knowing with them. Ending brings with it a new possibility of beginning, for both facilitators and participants who go back to their practice with fresh insights.

High-fidelity simulation , Health professional , Debriefing , Pedagogy , Hermeneutic , Phenomenology , Facilitators
Publisher's version
Rights statement