Objectives: This article has two objectives. Firstly, we critically review simulation-based mastery learning (SBML) research in medical education, evaluate its implementation and immediate results, and document measured downstream translational outcomes in terms of improved patient care practices, better patient outcomes and collateral effects. Secondly, we briefly address implementation science and its importance in the dissemination of innovations in medical education and health care. Methods: This is a qualitative synthesis of SBML with translational (T) science research reports spanning a period of 7 years (2006-2013). We use the 'critical review' approach proposed by Norman and Eva to synthesise findings from 23 medical education studies that employ the mastery learning model and measure downstream translational outcomes. Results: Research in SBML in medical education has addressed a range of interpersonal and technical skills. Measured outcomes have been achieved in educational laboratories (T1), and as improved patient care practices (T2), patient outcomes (T3) and collateral effects (T4). Conclusions: Simulation-based mastery learning in medical education can produce downstream results. Such results derive from integrated education and health services research programmes that are thematic, sustained and cumulative. The new discipline of implementation science holds promise to explain why medical education innovations are adopted slowly and how to accelerate innovation dissemination.
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