October 11, 2019By Lance Baily

The Crucial Advice No One Will Give Your Clinical Simulation Program

Ready for a big secret? Ensuring your clinical simulation program gets the press attention it deserves is a critical component for long-term success. Why? Because the public is almost completely unaware of the work medical simulation champions around the world are doing each day to improve healthcare education, training, and patient safety outcomes. The more your community knows about your institution’s simulation program, the more support it will receive in general awareness (partnership opportunities), volunteers, and most importantly of all, philanthropists! Today we highlight three unique simulation stories showcasing the success of their programs, and then share ways you too can utilize local media to bring local, regional, and international attention to your healthcare simulation program!

Tufts Now: “Virtual reality may help foster learning and collaboration across health professions“: A virtual world may be a feasible learning platform for bringing together students from different healthcare professions and enhancing their understanding of collaborative patient care and knowledge of other health professions, according to a pilot study led by researchers from Tufts University School of Medicine and published online in the Journal of Interprofessional Care. Interprofessional education (IPE) aims to foster learning and collaboration among healthcare students from different professions, with a goal of enhancing patient care. Scheduling face-to-face learning between students in different programs, however, is one of the largest barriers to implementing this type of learning.

The study evaluated a virtual reality educational environment for its ability to provide IPE in palliative care, which is interdisciplinary by nature. “IPE is an incredibly valuable experience for health professions students to have, and collaborative team-based palliative care has been shown to have a real impact on improving quality of life and patient care while lowering healthcare costs,” said first and corresponding author Amy L. Lee, an assistant professor of family medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine. “Interprofessional learning is a crucial component for health professions training, but it’s often easier said than done. Challenges aligning students’ schedules to physically meet and work together are the most-commonly cited obstacle. Communication in real-time via a virtual setting might help address this problem.”

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Watch: “NHS Trust seeks to create kinder NHS with emotive staff video“: A powerful video created by a South East trust featuring real-life stories from the frontline about the importance of kindness to staff wellbeing and patient safety is gaining national traction. The project has been led by the nursing simulation education team at Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust to highlight the issue of “workplace incivility”. Not quite bullying or harassment, incivility rears its head in more subtle ways and can be overlooked as a normal consequence of working in a busy and at times stressful environment. Examples highlighted in the video include being interrupted, hostile looks, raised voices, eye rolling, tutting, publicly criticising a colleague, abrupt emails, belittling and gossiping. Workplace incivility can come from managers, colleagues and patients and is usually not intended to cause harm.

How Springfield Technical Community College is training medical professionals to respond to crisis situations with robotic patients: Pediatric patient Katie lays on the bed at the Springfield Technical Community College with tears rolling down her cheeks, with audible signs of distress and in apparent pain but rather than a doctor coming to her aid, Simulation Specialist Dan Taibbi moves to stop the anguish with a touch on his tablet. Named “Katie” by the Health & Patient Simulation department, she is a robotic simulation patient used to train students and medical practitioners at the STCC.

The goal of the skills capital grants, which range from $50,000 to $500,000, is to help high schools, colleges and other workforce training organizations invest in the most up-to-date equipment to give their students an advantage when they continue in their chosen field or area of study. STCC will use the grant to boost two programs dividing the grant in half by acquiring: – New medical patient simulation training equipment, which will allow a larger number of students to enroll in the health science program. – Robotic arms for the electrical engineering technology program, which will provide hands-on experience with equipment students will encounter in advanced manufacturing facilities.

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How to Attract Media Attention To Your Simulation Program:

First, let’s review why Media Attention is so important to your simulation efforts. A strong public relations image helps to:

  • Educate the community about the innovations and importance of healthcare
  • Demonstrate to administration the power of simulation to attract attention as well as the successes of your program
  • Bring in potential donors
  • Raise staff moral by showcasing their hard work to the community
  • Create new opportunities to build partnerships with other internal/external groups.

Imagine an article about your Simulation Program going out to hundreds or even thousands of readers of a popular newspaper in your city. You never know just who will call after an article like the one goes out! For example, after a local NPR article was published by the Clinical Simulation Center of Las Vegas, the local Chamber of Commerce, a local hospital and a state assemblyman all called for a tour of this healthcare simulation center! Thus, new and permanent relationships with sometimes hard to reach key players can be easily achieved.

Sending press coverage to administrators and/or legislatures also helps them realize their efforts helped to create a fantastic new image for your institution – something they won’t forget next time the budget comes up! And I have heard of several sim labs receiving HUGE donations after some media coverage went public. We just never know who else might understand what our simulation programs are trying to accomplish!

Where to Start When Trying to Attract The Presses?

First you will need something to send potential media agencies. By creating a small 1-2 page “press kit” highlighting the statistics of your lab. Include everything from who the learners are, what the lab usage is, what type of equipment you have, startup and annual costs involved, the number and types of staff your lab employs, the number of rooms you maintain and what they are used for. Include this information in bullet AND paragraph form, to make it easier for the reader. Also, take some professional looking photographs of your learners engaging in simulation in healthcare.

Learners can be staged as long as the image conveys realism. As well, consider including a floor plan of the CSCLV as the shear size (31,000 sq.ft.) and scope of the space is impressive. (Your press kit can also be used to send to institutions or groups you would like to partner with in the future, and can quickly be used to entice them to take a tour, meet your staff, and hear your ideas for a partnership.) With this packet zipped up or in a pdf, create an email template inviting 1-2 agencies a week to cover your sim lab space. Inviting more than that might bring in too much attention too quickly – and its best to secure one group every other month or so.

Attach your “Press Kit” and direct them to find more information on your web page. Now they can scan about 2-3 pages of information and easily get a feel for what your medical simulation lab does and how interesting and unique a place it all actually is. Write that they can contact you at any time for any questions or requests. If they don’t write back or say they are currently too busy, write down their names for a follow up phone call a few weeks to a month from now. Invite everything from local television news, newspapers, magazines, popular online blogs, to national publications like Nursing Weekly. The worst that can happen is that they can turn you down!

Looking for more? Read our focused article:

Start the Presses: How to Get More Media Attention to Your Simulation Program!

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