Improve Faculty Buy-In for Healthcare Simulation, With Technical Staff

“Despite the increased demand and implementation of simulation, a lack of training programs and standardization of education for faculty on using these teaching methods inhibits its use. With high cost equipment, shifts from traditional teaching paradigms, and technology overload apprehension on how, when, and why to use simulation in their teaching practices is understandable” (Kamerer, 2012, p. 1). Although this quote was published in Clinical Simulation in Nursing (INACSL’s peer-review journal) over 6 years ago, today we take a look at how faculty training is still a strong barrier simulation utilization after some powerful insights from Level 3 Healthcare‘s recent webinar.

While becoming slightly easier to setup and operate, simulators have become more complex, maintaining a high level of faculty “apprehension” regarding utilization. Luckily, what started as a hodgepodge position of “simulation technician” has in the past decade fully evolved into “Healthcare Simulation Technology Specialists”. The overall scope of duties has not changed much, but the support for those acting in their roles has greatly evolved. But for those programs who have not yet invested in such a Sim Tech position, the many layers of technical systems create massive buy-in issues for clinical faculty without previous experience. The easiest conclusion is that faculty need to better rely on dedicated simulation specialists, whether specialized in education-based simulation, simulation technology, information systems, and so forth.

No simulation program has escaped the rejection of simulation by some faculty, having access to Simulation Technology Specialists can reduce apprehension and faster increase technical adoption. During last month’s Level 3 Healthcare Webinar (which you can now watch) “Recorded Webinar: Addressing the 15 Biggest Challenges in Healthcare Simulation Operations“, several faculty suggested their greatest barrier to simulation adoption was still the “lack of a simulation technology” operational support.

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Recognize This Problem is Universal

Let’s not assume that today’s educators are not capable of operating technology —read the Kamerer quote above again, it talks about a lack of training as the barrier, not the knowledge itself. This is why organizations like SimGHOSTS were founded in 2010, to help both full-time technicians or part-time clinical educators to better learn and share best practices in simulation technology operations. But SimGHOSTS can’t be everywhere, and so the primary responsibility still lies with the simulation staff, and sometimes, the clinical faculty are simply not interested.

During the recorded webinar, one operations specialist relayed how frustrated she was that after working for months trying to collaborate with educators she found their rejection to learn new technologies consistent.  Although she was relatively new to simulation she began to teach herself how to operate simulation systems, and even attended a training session at the simulator manufacturer’s learning center.  Despite the lack of “buy-in” by some of her clinical educators, she continued to build relationships with various faculty members by supporting them with technical assistance; fixing computers, mapping printers, installing applications, etc.

But still, the faculty resisted, until one day a faculty member simply told her the real reason she wasn’t utilizing simulation “I don’t want to look stupid in front of my students, I am just not comfortable with all this technology.” With that key insight, the simulation technology specialist created a bridge for new utilization by saying back “If you will work with me to design scenarios to meet your objectives, I promise that I will make you look good in front of your students and colleagues.”

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Regardless of background, change is difficult. While innovators and early-adopters become excited by new technologies, for the early-majority and late-majority it only brings anxiety and apprehension. Laggards won’t adopt new technologies unless they are forced and required too!

Technical Support Means Faculty Can Focus on Teaching

The emerging Healthcare Simulation Technology Specialist professional role can go a long way in reducing faculty apprehension. By creating a gatekeeper, an educator, a passionate team member responsible for the technology, you free clinical faculty to focus on what they are most passionate about: teaching. Simulation Administrators, or Program Administrators, should consider three key factors when integrating simulation into their educational or training programs:

  1. Funding a Sim Tech position will reduce barriers to entry for clinical faculty regarding technology integrations / evolutions.
  2. Creating a supportive work environment between clinical faculty and technical staff will increase healthy working relationships, keeping employees happier and thus, reducing turn over.
  3. Supporting all simulation team members with ongoing training and education is crucial for longterm success as the technology and the methodology are evolving and improving rapidly.

In the end, some “Laggard Stage” educators may never come to see the value of simulation, but we should not let that discourage us. Starting with one or two educators who are willing to be your “Champions” will eventually show other faculty the opportunities and value of simulation. Just be sure to fully support those individuals so they don’t experience burn-out from above, as they will certainly face challenges convincing their peers.

For all of us in simulation now, let’s remember to elevate those that work with you, regardless of their role in your simulation program, from learner to technical support person, to clinical educator, researcher, or administrator. Take credit for the work that goes into creating successful simulation activities and share those successes with your institution at large. Honor your teammates with recognition in public displays of support. Find paths to help those that are struggling to find the sense of security they seek from the comfort of doing things “the old way”. From there, you can move mountains because positive change can happen!

Reference: Kamerer, J. L. (2012, October). Creating champions: a tiered approach for faculty development & buy-in. Clinical Simulation in Nursing, 8, e397-e398.

Learn 3 Ways to Improve Faculty Buy-In for Healthcare Simulation from L3HC!

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