11 More Must Know Simulation Center Design Considerations

Previously we wrote on 9 Key Considerations When Designing a Sim Lab, where we shared the importance of identifying stakeholders, planning for storage space, gases, manikins and more. Today, guest author Dr. Kim Baily PhD, MSN, RN, CNE, covers the next 11 of 20 key considerations that might prove useful for planning a nursing or medical simulation center! Designing a simulation lab is a multi-step process that involves extensive planning. Follow these key steps as initial parts of your operational design plan for new sim labs!

10. Routine Simulation Supplies and Simulated Medications: For convenience, many simulation labs have basic supplies inside the sim lab however, unless this is the situation in the local clinical setting, supplies do not tend to be readily available inside a patient’s room. Learners need to make decisions about leaving patients, infection control standards, calling for assistance or obtaining medications. If the simulation area is large enough, supplies and med carts can be left outside patient rooms. This gives learners practice in infection control methods and patient identification since the patients need to be identified each time a provider reenters the room and care is provided. Consider additional cameras and microphones to cover these outside areas.

11. Telephone: Will simulation participants communicate with other healthcare team members who would normally be contacted via telephone? Thought should be given as to how observers hear both sides of a telephone conversation and whether the telephone will be real or simulated.


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12. Individual scenario props: Some props will be used in several scenarios while others will be unique to a particular scenario. Where and how will props be stored? For example, will each scenario have its own storage container or will there be a prop room/storage location that holds all of the props.

13. Scenario and Administration Documents: Where will all the individual scenario documents be stored? Will they be in a labeled scenario binder or will all patient information be available in an electronic record format? Where will the binders be stored. In addition, where will other documents such as confidentiality statements and surveys be stored.

14. Adequate Funding (for full time healthcare simulation technologist): Will sufficient funds be available to support a full time simulation technologist. If not, expect to lose your part time technician soon after you have spent considerable time and money training them. Sim technologists are in short supply, and if part time, they are likely to be lured away to a full time position with a better salary and benefits.

15. Location of items mounted on the wall: Where will monitors, headwalls, sharps containers, hand gels, soap dispensers, paper towels and gloves of various sizes be mounted?


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16. Visibility of monitors, location of cameras and microphones: Consider placement of manikin monitors so that they can be seen by all scenario participants and by cameras that will transmit information to learners observing the simulation in a remote location or be recorded for future playback. Camera location is important as blind spots will leave observers unable to see the proceedings.

17. Backpack storage: Students with bulky backpacks may need storage for their belongings. If lockers are provided will they be lockable?

18. Separate preparation room: Will there be a preparation room for simulation props e.g. preparing IV fluids, simulated medications and fake body solutions as well as conducting repairs.

19. Call system: Will the simulation participants be expected to use a call system when they need assistance. Note that call systems can add a significant cost to the sim lab build.

20 EHR access: Will an Electronic Health Record (EHR) and eMAR be used in the healthcare simulation? If so, will the EHR be part of an existing hospital system with training access, a separate system or a simulated EHR either from an educational system or created by the simulation center? How will students access the EHR? Two options include a computer on wheels or a built in terminal?

Healthcare simulation educators and administrators involved in building a simulation lab should tour local simulation facilities and consider joining regional simulation groups to explore options. Vendors can assist with planning and installation but costs can quickly rise especially if extensive audiovisual and computerized systems are being installed. However, healthcare simulation does not have to be elaborate. A simplified lab with low or mid-fidelity manikins and basic supplies can work well. Several companies make an in situ recording system that fits in a briefcase and for some programs, this may be the way to start. Since the benefits of simulation education are well documented, now might be the right time to create a simulation lab.

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Today’s article was guest authored by Kim Baily PhD, MSN, RN, CNE, previous Simulation Coordinator for Los Angeles Harbor College and Director of Nursing for El Camino College. Over the past 16 years Kim has developed and implemented several college simulation programs and previously chaired the Southern California Simulation Collaborative.

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