October 1, 2020By Lance Baily

Management Leadership in Clinical Simulation Operations

Anyone involved with clinical simulation operations knows that leadership is often a required skill trait. From managing team members to designing operational processes, or from managing equipment manifests to creating technology policies, those operating healthcare simulation programs are required to act with leadership in a multitude of ways. As every medical simulation professional exists within the domain of “early-adopter”, there are simply more “naysayers” for us all to overcome. Even though COVID-19 has pushed technology laggards to the side temporarily, the demands from simulation in healthcare staff to push the field forward will remain an uphill battle for decades to come. As such, today we are taking a look at Chapter 15 “The Healthcare Simulation Technology Specialist and Management” of the new Springer published book Comprehensive Healthcare Simulation: Operations, Technology, and Innovative Practice, sharing some key excerpts on the topic of leadership and management for sim lab operations. This chapter was written by Dr. Amar Patel, Chief Learning Officer of CAE Healthcare, and Jennifer McCarty, Director of Clinical Simulation at Seton Hall University.

For the Healthcare Simulation Technology Specialist (HSTS), the technological and simulation environment is constantly changing. Each day there is an advancement in the technology that could help the educational environment grow or force individuals out of a job. It is the job of the HSTS to learn how to help an educational program adjust their curriculum or simply be available to provide insight and perspective.

We are all leaders in our respective fields. It is up to us to define the leadership qualities and demonstrate how we have achieved the competencies necessary to be a good leader. At the end of the day, leadership is about what each person does in their role and how they choose to have an impact. Leadership does not come from a title but from the actions portrayed by an individual.


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Becoming a leader is about being a mentor. A leader is responsible to those that report to them and to ensure that the program is following the model and parameters that have been established by the parent organization. Leadership is not easy, and it is imperative that those who want to be a leader understand how to differentiate the role of a manager from that of a leader. Being a leader and a manager are different but equally important to a healthcare simulation program. Managers control, while leaders inspire.

Managerial skills are key when dealing with nonliving items. Leadership skills are key when deal- ing with people. Leaders are able to utilize both managerial and leadership qualities as needed to drive positive change for the simulation program. To become a leader, an individual must understand the role they currently play, acknowledge their own gaps, and develop a plan on how to move forward. A success- ful leader must be willing to be vulnerable and accept feedback. In the end, everyone is a leader in simulation, and being in the clinical profession is not a requirement to oversee an educational program.

Often, the HSTS is viewed as beneath the educator. This hierarchy is detrimental to providing an environment that enhances teamwork and reduces silo thinking. It is important for the HSTS to be accepted as a peer and an integral part of the simulation team. His or her input and feedback is important for the evolution and advancement of simulation in healthcare. If HSTSs find themselves in a situation where they are not revered as part of the team, a direct, professional conversation is the best first step to resolving this mis- understanding. It is important that the healthcare simulation technology specialist not take this personally. The healthcare simulation field is maturing as a profession and without a dialogue to share ideas regarding maturation, the field will remain stagnant, or worse, evolve based on factors not driven by professionals in the field. Part of leadership is leading the maturation of the profession.

To be a strong and impactful leader, the HSTS must understand what a compe- tency is, how it is defined, and how to achieve them. The Association for Talent Development defines a competency as “something you need to be able to do well in a specific job role”. The top 10 and most notable were:


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  1. Strong ethics and safety
  2. Self-organizing
  3. Clearly communicates expectations
  4. Efficient growth
  5. Nurtures learning
  6. Connection and belonging
  7. Open to new ideas
  8. Creates a feeling of succeeding and failing together
  9. Helps me grow into the next generation
  10. Provides safety for trial and error

Fostering relationships can have a significant impact on the goal of advancing simulation, technology, and achieving programmatic goals. Professional network- ing allows individuals to learn about new technology and can provide an avenue where access to new technology could improve how the desired outcome is achieved. Attending local and national conferences allows the HSTS to learn more about the industry, the future, and the technology that may impact their respective programs.

Beyond remaining current with technological solutions, leadership as an HSTS can be expressed in many ways during the design, execution, and debriefing process of the simulation experience. Evidence-based design can be greatly influenced by the HSTS. Everything from suggesting the correct simulation modality, the proper location for learning, or method to enhance the realism for the simulation experi- ence, to setting room assignments that allow for proper logistical flow and debrief– ing support can all be leadership actions demonstrated by the HSTS. Each of these actions positively impacts the learning and experience of the participants. These actions also help others understand the role the HSTS has within the profession.

The chapter then goes on to explain various leadership styles, program development, mission identification, stakeholder community building, policy design, culture building and the expectation for lifelong learning.

Leadership is not about your background and although it is imperative that future simulation leaders have relevant experience in the fields of education and simulation, anyone can become a leader. It is important to remember that the driving force behind being a good leader is bringing your experience to the role, having trust and faith in your team, communicating, establishing, and maintaining a high level of ethical and moral standards, and being able to meet the competencies for the leader- ship role. Leadership is all about leading people in a positive path forward and driving the organization to become the best it can be.

Previously We Shared Chapter Excerpts on:

More Key Take Aways From Latest Simulation Operations Book Include:

  • Practical guide helps prepare professionals for the broad scope of simulation in healthcare
  • Defines the domains of medical simulation operations
  • Focuses on the development of the healthcare simulation technology specialist
  • Written and edited by leaders in the field of clinical simulation

Written and edited by leaders in the field, Comprehensive Healthcare Simulation: Operations, Technology, and Innovative Practice is optimized for a variety of learners, including healthcare educators, simulation directors, as well as those looking to pursue a career in simulation operations as healthcare simulation technology specialists. Grab your copy today through our affiliate commissioned links:

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