New To Community College Clinical Simulation? Where To Start! Part 1

New to community college clinical healthcare simulation? HealthySim writer Dr. Kim Baily PhD, MSN, RN, CNE, Simulation Coordinator for Los Angeles Harbor College, shares the first of a three part article series which outlines some of the issues that will be encountered along the way and most importantly where to start! First thing? Identify the user groups and stakeholders so that they may be included in your planning phase.

Identify Simulation Stakeholders and Review National Standards

  • At the beginning of the planning process determine who the stakeholders will be.
    • Will the simulation lab be used exclusively by one department or for example, will the whole of the health sciences division expect to use the sim space?
    • Who has the authority and money to support the program.
    • Although some department administrators are knowledgeable about simulation, do not underestimate how little some administrators know.
    • Take time to educate the dean and/or directors and other stakeholders about the role of simulation and all the activities and money that are needed to run a successful program.
    • Faculty can be very territorial so if multiple groups will be using the lab, try to report directly to the dean who has the authority to ensure that all departments share the space.
    • Review some national standards such as those from the International Nursing Association for Clinical Simulation and Learning (INACSL) or the Society for Simulation In Healthcare (SSH)
      • Do not be overwhelmed by all the criteria, but keep them in mind as the program is planned and starts to grow.
      • As simulation use increases and replaces traditional bedside clinical time, state boards of nursing will begin to require colleges follow some proven standards and operate using evidence based practice.
      • Following well established national criteria will help with future accreditation requirements.

Identify Your Learners


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  • Who are the learners?
    • What are the levels of the learners?
      • Novice
      • Just about to graduate?
  • Will learners from different disciplines interact during simulation?
  • Every sim activity will need carefully thought out learning objectives.
    • Who will write the objectives and ensure that the simulation objectives match program and course outcomes?
    • Will new scenarios be written or will existing scenarios be adapted.
      • Who will validate and update scenarios?
    • Alternatively, will scenarios be purchased?
      • If purchased, who will ensure that they match course outcomes?

Identify Necessary Simulation Staff

  • Simulation Coordinator
    • Is there one person who will coordinate, set up and teach all at the same time or will roles such as coordinator and a technician be included?
  • Simulation Faculty
    • Who will be responsible for faculty development?
    • Will there be standards for sim faculty?
    • Will they need to have a national certification or attend specific classes?
    • Will faculty be mentored?
  • Simulation Technology Specialist
    • Who will be responsible for overall operations for the simulation program?
      • Will this be a separate role or assigned to a sim faculty or simulation technician?
      • Many community colleges have difficulty finding funding for simulation technologists. The jobs are often part time or non existent in which case, the sim faculty assumes the role. Once part time sim technicians are trained they will easily find a position with benefits at a larger sim center.
      • Funding a full time position helps create a stable and organized program. The importance of this position is finally being recognized nationally.
    • Some of the responsibilities of the simulation operative/technician:
      • Scheduling, equipment setup, equipment maintenance, cleaning, ordering supplies, creating medications, IVs, filling med carts or electronic medicine dispensers.
      • Moulage.
      • Collection and filing of participant paperwork for confidentiality and if appropriate permissions for use of any recorded equipment.
      • Operation of manikin software, troubleshooting problems with electronics and manikin function.
      • Manikin repair.
      • Operation of audio/visual recording and playback.
      • Ensuring that equipment in the debriefing room is operational.
      • Faculty will be more willing to embrace simulation if they do not have to worry about technical operations or setup and teardown.

During the planning phase of a new or revised sim space, take time to visit other simulation labs in the area. Contact any local simulation groups and ask to visit some of their sim centers. If there are funds, a consultant may be hired. Many of the manikin vendors would also be willing to help with planning. However, if there is just one room and limited funds, no worries, a simulation program does not have to have expensive manikins but can work quite well with limited equipment. Faculty training and technical support are key considerations for success. Stay tuned to the next two parts of this series in the months to come!


Today’s article was guest authored by Kim Baily PhD, MSN, RN, CNE, Simulation Coordinator for Los Angeles Harbor College. Over the past 15 years Kim has developed and implemented several college simulation programs and currently chairs the Southern California Simulation Collaborative.

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