April 16, 2012By Lance Baily

Thoughts on Hiring a Healthcare Simulation Technology Specialist

During an email list-serv conversation for the Gathering of Healthcare Simulation Technology Specialists, I noticed James Cypert from CalBaptist had an insightful response when a fellow GHOSTS subscriber asked the community:

“I am in the process of hiring a simulation technician and was wondering if other centers had any novel techniques (i.e. diagnose a broken task trainer) for interviewing/ screening candidates and their aptitude for work in this field?”

James’ response starts below:

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I do not have a novel way per se. But I do have a recommendation that may benefit everyone. In a discussion with some of the local facilities in the area, and my introduction to them stimulated some discussion in this very area. Apparently, many people have been having discussions about whether technicians should have a strong medical background, (EMT, etc.), or should they have a strong technical background. (Continue reading by clicking the “Read more” link below.)

I informed them that the entire debate seemed to be missing the target entirely. We are not in the medical industry or the technical industry, we are in the education industry. I would not hire an EMT just because they had medical experience, nor would I hire a computer technician. I would seek out someone who has an education background, and does not look at you confused when you speak of pedagogy. Preferably an individual who like me has spent years learning technology or experience with it, and has instructed others in its use.

You do not want to hire a glorified IT computer technician. Most do not have the personality traits required for the task. I know this personally because I have been training computer technicians for the last 20 years. I would also not say that medical experience automatically qualifies you either.

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If I were in need of hiring a simulation technician right now this is how I would approach it.

First I would search out and recruit from a pool of technicians that also had experience as instructors in the technical industry. I would treat my interview much like I would for a faculty. I would simply tell the candidates to prepare a 15 minute lesson plan and presentation explaining some technical thing. Perhaps something as simple as using the mouse, or keyboard shortcuts, or explain how the internet works, or networking. The individual that can explain those things in a coherent and understandable way will be your best candidate.

The reason for this approach is two fold. First you will know the individual can assimilate technical instructions, and will have a deeper understanding of technology. You also know that they will be able to communicate well with you faculty and will be able to train them effectively, while also understanding what education is about.

In my opinion you do not need a computer geek, mostly because most computer geeks are socially awkward and have difficulty with interpersonal relationships. You do not need a person from the medical industry because they many times conflict with faculty on the medical side. You do need a person with a comprehensive understanding of education and technology. This is typically only found in technical instructors, who are computer geeks that have a strong ability in interpersonal communication, as well as the dynamics of education and appropriate pedagogy.

Hiring in this way allows faculty to be the content experts, and for the technician to be the technology and delivery expert. On a personal note I was hired two years ago at California Baptist University School of Nursing. I have no medical background, but I have a Bachelor’s in Information Technology, and am considered a computer geek. The difference with me is that I was also a Technology Instructor for 20 years, and I know how to communicate complicated information to others.

I would seek out the following types of individuals

  • High interpersonal relationship skills
  • High technical knowledge and skills
  • Education industry background (technical trainer, technical writer)
  • Alternatively you could seek out a person who experience as a Systems Analyst, mostly because they have experience communicating highly technical information to stakeholders. So part of their job is as a liason between IT and decision makers who have no technical background.
  • Ask questions that are pertinent to technology expertise and depth, there ability to communicate, and their ability to learn and teach others.

I hope this helps and does not offend anyone. Deogratias.”

James Cypert A+, N+, i-Net+, MCP, MCSE, MOUS
Technical Director
California Baptist University School of Nursing

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