Debriefing as an opportunity to develop emotional competence in health profession students: Faculty, be prepared!

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AIMS: In this article, we want to share our perspective on how simulation sessions could contribute to change reality, building a safe environment in which facilitators can role-modeling students to develop emotional competence. Noteworthy, acknowledging and legitimating emotions are also essential components of creating a safe environment for students. We also intend to stress how faculty development programs are essential to guarantee that facilitators will be prepared to accomplish this new learning goal, and how different cultural contexts can influence the process.

METHODS: In this narrative review, we will focus on the importance of emotions. Emotions in the context of learning but also learners’ emotions from the viewpoint of teachers, and teachers’ emotions in the context of faculty development.

RESULTS: Simulation in medical education is becoming increasingly important. Advances in technology give many opportunities to simulate almost anything you want, with high fidelity and enhanced reality. It creates the possibility of bringing the complexity of real clinical tasks to a controlled simulated environment. While performing these complex simulated tasks, students experience several and sometimes distinct emotions: the emotions of patients and their families, the emotions of the multi-professional team members, and their own emotions, as learners and as future health professionals. Unfortunately, the formal curricula of the majority of medical schools do not address the importance of emotional competence specifically, and students end with the general impression that emotions are mainly negative, and must be avoided and kept at a safe distance. However, there are plenty of data showing how emotions can influence learning and decision-making, and how important it is to create awareness of and modulate them to guarantee the safeguard of patients’ interests.

CONCLUSIONS: Emotions directly affect several dimensions of clinical work, such as communication, decision-making, teamwork, and leadership. We hope that including dealing with emotions as a natural goal of the learning activities in the health professions can catalyze the reconciliation between the technical and emotional aspects of clinical practice
Original languageEnglish
Article number28805
Number of pages9
JournalScientia Medica
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 12-Mar-2018


  • Emotions
  • Faculty
  • Medical education
  • Simulation
  • adult
  • awareness
  • catalysis
  • clinical practice
  • decision making
  • human
  • leadership
  • learning
  • medical school
  • narrative
  • occupation
  • review
  • simulation
  • stress
  • student
  • teacher
  • teamwork
  • CARE

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