Table 1

Team debriefing in education and in clinical practice: related but different

Typical useConducted after an exercise such as a simulated patient encounter involving more than one healthcare provider
  • May occur during formal education or work-placed training

  • Involves students/trainees from one or more discipline

Conducted after a clinical experience such as a patient interaction (eg, surgery or treatment) or after a period of performance (eg, end of a shift)
  • May involve an ongoing, intact team or one formed to complete a specific task (eg, trauma team)

  • Sometimes examines a mistake or error

Learning objectivesLearning objectives are typically established in advanceSpecific learning objectives cannot be established in advance, as learning opportunities are contingent on the nature of the experience
TimingTime is allotted based on the learning objectives but the debrief is typically longer than a debrief in a clinical settingIf conducted immediately in situ, then often very brief (5–15 min). If conducted retrospectively, more time may be allotted
  • Debrief leader (faculty member or occasionally peer-led)

  • Student participants/trainees

  • Debrief leader (team leader or a trained debrief facilitator)

  • Team members

Primary intentIn an educational setting, build transportable competencies students can use throughout their career
In a work-placed training setting, if trainees are participating as an intact team, help them build a shared mental model
Reinforce positives and identify quick lessons learnt or adjustments to ensure teamwork is performed effectively/safely
Build shared mental models about how the team expects to work together going forward
Secondary intentHelp prepare students to participate in clinical debriefs in the futureBuild transportable competencies; identify recommendations to improve processes/systems (to share with leadership)