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Exploring situational awareness in emergency medicine: developing a shared mental model to enhance training and assessment
  1. David J Lowe1,2,
  2. Alastair J Ireland1,
  3. Al Ross3,
  4. Jean Ker4
  1. 1Department of Emergency, Glasgow Royal Infirmary, Glasgow, UK
  2. 2Department of Anaesthesia, Critical Care & Pain, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK
  3. 3Glasgow Dental School, College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK
  4. 4Clinical Skills Centre, College of Medicine, Dentistry and Nursing, University of Dundee, Dundee, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr David J Lowe, Room 2.73, New Lister Building, Glasgow Royal Infirmary, 10-16 Alexandra Parade, Glasgow G31 2ER, UK; davidlowe{at}


Non-technical skills (NTS) are gaining increasing prominence within the field of emergency medicine. Situational awareness (SA), one key component of NTS, is a key skill for emergency physicians (EPs) during initial training and throughout their career. Furthermore, the majority of frameworks used to evaluate clinical performance incorporate SA as one key component. This review seeks to define and explore the concept of SA within the context of emergency medicine. We describe SA at an individual, team and departmental level. Development of this ability enables EPs to function effectively within the challenging environment of the emergency department (ED). Enhancing our understanding of SA may develop the cognitive process that underpins our clinical performance. We propose a model for consideration to support evaluation and training of SA within the ED, linking the model to the novice expert continuum.

  • EDUCATION & TRAINING (see Medical Education & Training)
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  • Contributors DJL wrote the manuscript. AJI reviewed the manuscript for clinical context and novice to expertise development within the emergency department. AR reviewed the manuscript for human factors context. JK is MD supervisor and substantially reviewed the manuscript and educational context.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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