Luís Pires J, Payo P, Marcos R. The Use of Simulators for Teaching Fine Needle Aspiration Cytology in Veterinary Medicine. J Vet Med Educ. 2022 Feb;49(1):39-44

PMID: 34003735


Fine needle aspiration (FNA) is widely used by veterinary practitioners, being taught mostly by observation. Simulators are known to enhance students' learning of practice skills, but to our knowledge, FNA simulators have never been assessed in veterinary medicine. Fifty-one undergraduate students with no prior experience in cytology were randomly assigned to two groups that practiced on either a box simulator (with artificial nodules) or a fruit (banana). An in-class flip was followed, in which students first observed a FNA video tutorial and then used their assigned simulator for 15 minutes maximum. Students then attempted a FNA on an animal model and were evaluated through an objective structured clinical examination (OSCE). Learning outcomes of each model was compared through questionnaires, OSCE pass rates, and quality of produced smears. After observing the video, no student reported being able to conduct a FNA on a live animal, whereas most assured that they would be able to do so after using a simulator. Students practiced more on the box model (14.8 ± 0.8 min) than on the fruit (8.5 ± 2.2 min). At evaluation, students who had practiced on the box had more puncturing accuracy than those who had practiced on the fruit. Still, no differences in OSCE pass rates existed. Simulation models thus were effective for learning FNA, but the box simulator seemed to be more successful than the fruit in terms of deliberate practice. This appears to have a positive effect on students' puncturing accuracy, which has clinical relevance.