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February 13, 2024

Reflecting On Scenario-Driven Training: NHS Trainers’ Perspectives

Building on a very successful run of training for police services all over the country, the SCENA team of Professor Chris Cushion and MD of Dynamis Gerard O’Dea have been introducing Authentic Scenario Based Training to NHS trainers in Scotland.

The team delivered a 4-day SCENA CPD Trainer Development programme in January in a freezing and snow-covered but beautiful Inverness location. Throughout the course, they collected feedback from the team of NHS trainers.

The data offers an insightful window into the learning experiences of a group of NHS who attended this January’s SCENA course. Their thoughtful discussions revealed the benefits they derived from the Scenario-Driven Approach, as well as the challenges they encountered while thinking differently about the HOW they deliver training.

We asked an AI to look at the data (almost two hours of spoken-word feedback) and tell us what it thought the NHS trainers’ conclusions were!

Read on!

The benefits of an authentic scenario based approach to NHS PMVA courses

The benefits

The learners highlighted a number of advantages of the Scenario-Driven approach. A central theme was the use of layered learning, where complexity was gradually added to scenarios to enhance understanding and skills. This approach was lauded for its effectiveness in keeping learners engaged and facilitating a deeper grasp of the subject matter.

The group discussed the importance of active engagement in learning and the value of learner-centered approaches. They recognised that fostering such an environment not only makes the experience more enjoyable but also fosters deeper learning and understanding. The trainers agreed that engaging learners from the start of the training session, by involving them in scenario creation, for example, could lead to more effective learning outcomes.

Including realistic scenarios is PMVA training courses was underlined as a significant benefit. By incorporating real-life situations that the learners could potentially encounter in their professional lives, the course was able to achieve greater relevance and practicality. The learners appreciated the active involvement this required, which they found more engaging and beneficial compared to traditional learning methods.

The learners also noted the benefit of a flexible learning environment. Scenario-driven training courses are able to cater to the varying levels of expertise among learners by allowing them to pause and practice elements they found challenging. This aspect was seen as ensuring that no learner was left behind.

The challenges

Despite the numerous benefits, the trainers identified some challenges. The main issue was the potential for trainers to dominate discussions, thereby reducing the effectiveness of the teaching. They recognized the need to reduce their own speaking time, emphasizing that ‘less is more’. The group concluded that brevity and clarity in instruction often lead to better understanding and recall.

The discussions also touch upon the idea of ‘gaps’ in training and learning – expressing a need for trainers to be aware of their own gaps in knowledge in terms of how they deliver training material.

Another challenge was the potential for trainers to unintentionally lead learners towards specific conclusions. This raises concerns about learners simply mimicking the solutions given to them in PMVA training, rather than truly understanding the process and thinking critically for themselves. The group cautioned against leading learners to a particular conclusion, emphasizing that learners should be guided to find solutions on their own for effective learning.

The role of feedback also played a central theme in the professional conversations. The trainers discussed the importance of constructive feedback and how it can help learners improve.

Identified opportunities


Scenario-based training actively engages the learners – “as a learner I felt more engaged with what I was doing and everybody else was engaged too”.


One trainer highlighted the value of the realism brought by scenario-based training: “the realism that’s put into it, people are dealing with these issues on the wards”.


A trainer pointed out the flexibility of scenario-based training, with the ability to modify and adjust based on learners’ needs: “that’s where that coach-led element would come in”.

Progressive complexity

Throughout the discussions, participants value the layering of complexity, which allows learners to gradually build their skills. As one trainer put it: “we could start it here, we can add and take away elements in the scenario, but without coming to really stop the practice”.

Identified pitfalls

Risk of overcomplication

Discussions highlighted the risk of making scenarios overly complicated, which could potentially disengage learners.

Trainer led bias

The discussions reveal a concern about trainers leading learners towards a predetermined solution. One trainer speaks to this: “it would be very easy to lead them down a specific path and they’re not necessarily learning the decision-making linked with that type of intervention. We have to be careful that they are not just parroting”.

Over reliance on verbal instruction

Another trainer identified a weakness in relying too much on their own verbal instruction: “I quite like to talk and I’m trying not talk so much. Less is more.”

Lack of variation

The discussions suggest that scenario-based training could fall into a pattern of repetition without enough variation.

In conclusion, while scenario-based training presents several strengths like engagement, realism, flexibility, and progressive complexity, there are some potential pitfalls to watch out for on behalf of the trainer and their own skill level as a coach and facilitator, including over-complication, trainer-led bias, over-reliance on verbal instruction, and lack of variation.

Summary of experiences

Overall, the course appeared to be a rewarding and enriching experience for the learners. They appreciated the active, hands-on approach to learning and the relevance of the scenarios to their professional lives. The challenges identified were seen as areas for improvement, rather than detracting from the overall positive experience. The learners appeared committed to taking the insights they gained from the course and applying them in their own teaching practices, highlighting the impactful nature of the course.

Learn more about SCENA.

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