Background: Residents are expected to have transition of care (ToC) skills upon entering graduate medical education. It is unclear whether experience and training during medical school is adequate.

Objective: The aim of the project was to assess: 1) graduating medical students' ability to perform ToC in a crisis situation, and 2) whether using a cognitive aid improves the ToC quality.

Methods: The authors developed simulation scenarios for rapid response teams and a cognitive aid to assist in the ToC during crisis situations. Graduating medical students were enrolled and randomly divided into teams of three students, randomly assigned into one of two groups: teams using a cognitive aid for ToC (CA), or not using a cognitive aid (nCA). In the scenario, teams respond to a deteriorating patient and then transfer care to the next provider after stabilization. Three faculty reviewed the recording to assess completeness of the ToC and the overall quality. A completeness score was expressed as a fraction of the maximum score. Statistical analysis was performed using a t-test and Mann-Whitney U test.

Results: A total of 112 senior medical students participated: CA n=19, nCA n=17. The completeness score of the ToC and overall quality improved when using the cognitive aid (completeness score: CA 0.80±0.06 vs. nCA 0.52±0.07, p < 0.01; ToC quality: CA 3.16±0.65 vs. nCA 1.92±0.56, p < 0.01). Participants’ rating of knowledge and comfort with the ToC process increased after the simulation.

Conclusion: The completeness of information transfer during the ToC process by graduating medical students improved by using a cognitive aid in a simulated patient crisis.

Document Type


Publication Date


Notes/Citation Information

Published in Medical Education Online, v. 21, issue 1, 32118, p. 1-8.

© 2016 Brooke Bauer et al.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), allowing third parties to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format and to remix, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially, provided the original work is properly cited and states its license.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)