Introduction The transition from medical student to doctor has long been a source of concern, with widespread reporting of new graduates lack of preparedness for medical practice. Simulation has been suggested as a way to improve preparedness, particularly due to the difficulties in allowing full autonomy for patient care for undergraduate medical students. Few studies look at simulation alone for this purpose, and no studies have compared different simulation formats to assess their impact on preparedness.Method This mixed method study looked at two different simulation courses in two UK universities. Data were collected in two phases: immediately after the simulation and 3-4 months into the same students postgraduate training. Questionnaires provided quantitative data measuring preparedness and interviews provided a more in depth analysis of experiential learning across final year and how this contributed to preparedness.Result There were no significant differences between the two courses for overall preparedness, stress or views on simulation, and no significant differences in opinions longitudinally. Although the study initially set out to look at simulation alone, emergent qualitative findings emphasised experiential learning as key in both clinical and simulated settings. This inter relationship between simulation and the student assistantship prepared students for practice. Longitudinally, the emphasis on experiential learning in simulation was maintained and participants demonstrated using skills they had practised in simulation in their daily practice as doctors. Nevertheless, there was evidence that although students felt prepared, they were still scared about facing certain scenarios as foundation doctors.DiscussionThe results of this study suggest that simulation may positively affect students preparedness for practice as doctors. Simulation will never be a replacement for real clinical experience. However, when used prior to and alongside clinical experience, it may have positive effects on new doctors confidence and competence, and, therefore, positively impact patient care.