Clinical Sim Program of UW Health & UW Madison School of Medicine and Public Health Celebrates Break Out Year

Last week, the Clinical Simulation Program of UW Health and UW Madison School of Medicine and Public Health celebrated a successful year of bringing “Innovation Beyond Borders” to the multiple UW campuses. Let’s take a closer look at the Clinical Simulation Program team and their achievements this year, who are driven by a vision to offer a world-class simulation program that promotes experiential learning across healthcare disciplines to improve the quality and safety of patient care in Wisconsin and beyond.

Beth Houlahan, DNP, RN, CENP Board Co-Chair; Senior Vice President and Chief Nursing Executive, UW Health was on hand at the event to show the top-level support of the UW Health organization to championing medical simulation at all levels of the organization. Krystle Campbell, MSMS, CHSE Director of Operations and Mark Johanneck, BA, CHSOS, Simulation Specialist invited HealthySimulation.com Founder Lance Baily out to provide a keynote address on the topic of “Building Sustainable Simulation Communities”, while providing open houses and tours to the campus to highlight accomplishments and make some big announcements about the future of the program! Also of important note this past year, Ryan Thompson, MD became Medical Director at the Simulation Program. Exciting news by the team shared at the event is summarized below!

When speaking on community building in simulation, Lance spoke on the topic of recognizing the need to connect with established communities, “mind the gaps” of opportunities not yet developed, find support by other key stakeholders, build resources for fans with careful attention to detail, and to market those successes back into the community for further expansion. He also provided a presentation on “How to Secure Administrative Funding for More Healthcare Simulation Staff“.


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Key Updates From The Simulation Team

Fiscal year 2019 brought about new, innovative ways for the UW Health Clinical Simulation Program to improve patient care. They have extended their reach throughout the University of Wisconsin, the region and internationally. This year resulted in several achievements for their program, including the formation of new global partnerships, development of two simulators, receiving $29,000 in grant awards, contributing to peer-reviewed publications, and creating new curricula. Their passionate team continues to spearhead efforts within the strategic domains of team improvement, continuing professional development, and research and development, reaffirming their commitment to support patient- and family-centered healthcare through improvements to safety, quality and outcomes with:

  • 7,000 learner encounters
  • 4,310  hours of simulation-based training and education
  • 1,375 simulation events
  • 200 learner encounters on the KindHeart Trainer
  • 7 new simulator prototypes
  • 1,247 learners participated in 187 interprofessional education (IPE) sessions
  • 7.5% of all simulation events support continuing professional development
  • Learners came from more than 100 different hospital systems

Joshua Hermsen, MD, FACS, Assistant Professor at the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery of UW School of Medicine and Public Health shared “The future of simulation-based education is what we are making it.”

The UW Health Clinical Simulation Program fosters collaboration among clinicians, biomedical engineers and simulation enthusiasts with the goal of developing innovative ways to identify and close gaps in healthcare. This year, their program achieved new heights in research and development with the adoption of new technologies of mixed-modality simulators and newly developed task trainers. Through their novel research, they have integrated simulation in quality improvement initiatives to enhance patient care. Reaching across the globe, their team partnered with the developing simulation program at Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia to help establish a sustainable interprofessional program by developing the areas of administration, curricula and research. In the spirit of innovation, they continuously seek partnerships with other forward-thinking leaders.


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This year, they also partnered with cardiothoracic surgery to implement the new KindHeart cardiac surgical simulator. This interactive simulator incorporates vital signs, invasive hemodynamic monitoring and echocardiographic information, allowing learners to work with realistic tissue (porcine hearts), actual operating room instruments, sutures, cardiopulmonary bypass tubing and cannulae. This type of high-level training allows a group of interprofessional learners to interpret and react to realistic surgical operations, pause for learning opportunities and practice high-acuity, low-frequency events. Providing this level of training contributes to improved patient safety and outcomes. In addition, the innovative methodology associated with the KindHeart simulator advances research around competency-based assessment.

Their program continues to actively pursue new ways to transform healthcare by elevating the level of training for current and future healthcare workers. This includes training in new healthcare models, with a focus on enhancing teamwork through interprofessional education, improved processes and real-time quality advancements. To improve teamwork, collaboration, shared mental models and patient- centered care, they successfully brought together healthcare professionals from a variety of areas, with the common goal of improving UW Health patient outcomes when Extracorpeal Cannulation Oxygenation (ECMO) is initiated for a patient.

The aim of this clinical simulation was to test the activation protocol and cannulation process that was recently implemented in the UW Health Berbee Walsh Emergency Department. Also this year, they partnered with the UW-Madison Schools of Pharmacy and Nursing and the UW School of Medicine and Public Health to develop a three-year longitudinal interprofessional education curriculum for prelicensure students. During 72 hours of high-level, simulation- based education, 559 learners participated and debriefed with 34 expert facilitators (representing the Schools) on teamwork, communication, collaboration and shared mental models. In addition, novel curricula development included interprofessional training for central venous line insertions, mock codes, traumas and operating room scenarios.

As an international leader in the field of distinctive simulation programs, they continued their pursuit of excellence in groundbreaking research and development. Their accreditations through the American College of Surgeons as an Accredited Education Institute (ACS AEI) and the endorsement from the American Society of Anesthesiologists as a Simulation Education Network (SEN), reaffirm the value of their prestigious program and also provide us with contemporary interprofessional research endeavors. This includes offering courses such as Advanced Trauma Life Support for surgeons, emergency medicine physicians and family medicine physicians. The goal is to improve trauma patient outcomes, referrals and care of both adult and pediatric trauma patients by providing best-practice, simulation-based education using actors wearing simulated wounds and makeup to represent a variety of trauma injuries and scenarios.

The innovative trauma team is backed by a wealth of research and education, providing a valuable experience for conference participants. Partnering with the Adult and Pediatric Trauma Program to offer this novel course helped support their endeavors to achieve reverification as a Level One Trauma Center, making us 1 of 12 in the nation with Level One Adult, Pediatric and Burn Center Verification. As this program continues to grow, is also focuses on its own simulation staff development. This year, their team’s growth and success was demonstrated in several ways. Each staff member presented at either regional or national conferences, as well as authored posters, hosted workshops and contributed to journal publications and book chapters.

Learn more about the UW Clinical Simulation Program Here!


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