February 9, 2021By Lance Baily

WISER’s Healthcare Simulation Fellowship Offers Personalized Curriculum

The Winter Institute for Simulation Education and Research (WISER) has announced that they are one of the first simulation centers to receive accreditation from the Society for Simulation in Healthcare (SSH) for a fellowship program. WISER’s healthcare simulation Fellowship program was formalized in 2009 and has evolved dramatically since its inception. The program accepts simulationists from all over the world and has a network of previous Fellows spanning 10 countries and three continents. Here we take a closer look at the opportunity for those seeking a very high level of training in the discipline of medical simulation.

The WISER Fellowship program is designed for learners that would like to participate in a one-year or two-year curriculum that includes the WISER Foundation courses, electives, workshops, course observations and a scholarly project. WISER provides support with project conceptualization and completion during the Fellowship. Projects often include research, curriculum development or a combination of topics. By working closely with WISER’s experts, program participants can integrate into WISER’s network of simulation education experts.

The Fellowship has established numerous teaching and learning processes to allow Fellows to advance their usage of healthcare simulation. The goal is that through these processes, learners gain the general understanding and practical skills needed to prevent medical errors and improve patient safety. Other objectives of the WISER Fellowship include enhancing clinical simulation education programs, engaging in mentorship, understanding systems design and conducting meaningful healthcare simulation research.


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What makes WISER’s Fellowship program especially unique is the level of customization. To meet the individual needs of each learner, Fellows are able to determine their own goals and objectives for the duration of the Fellowship. However, there is also an established curriculum and course catalog including elective offerings available should Fellows choose to pursue a more general selection of courses.

Further, WISER Fellows are given the opportunity to observe live classes in both the University of Pittsburgh Health Science divisions as well as UPMC patient safety initiatives. This is made possible through WISER’s main campus and eight satellite centers (located in UPMC hospitals) that support over 2,000 classes annually.

“WISER, established in 1994, is a simulation center that provides Fellows with experienced and knowledgeable staff – additionally, WISER is also quite prolific in its simulation support to both the University of Pittsburgh and the UPMC hospital system which provides many opportunities for Fellows to observe live simulation, as well as interact and meet with the Course Directors and instructors,” said WISER Associate Director of Fellowship Adam Kukic.

Another advantage of the WISER Fellowship program is the availability of highly-experienced and accomplished simulation experts to serve as mentors and faculty. The Fellowship program has access to a variety of different healthcare simulation mentors who are subject matter experts in clinical simulation operations, medical simulation administration, IT, curriculum development, research, assessment, debriefing and facilitation. These mentors come from the over 300 University of Pittsburgh or UPMC faculty members who conduct courses at WISER, representing a variety of clinical expertise. Mentors are paired with Fellows based upon the Fellows’ areas of interest.


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“The mentor supports the Fellow in a number of ways. Fellowship mentors will help develop and/or refine a Fellow’s project during the initial project development process. Mentors will continue to meet with Fellows during project implementation,” WISER Director Paul Phrampus said. Mentors are also available to answer the Fellow’s questions as needed. Additionally, mentors assist with identifying and assembling resources to support the Fellow’s project. If the Fellow’s project extends beyond their WISER Fellowship (i.e., publications, etc.), the mentor will continue to serve as a resource to the Fellow, even after program completion.

One example of an effective mentor-Fellow relationship is the relationship between Dr. Paul Phrampus and Dr. John O’Donnell with Dr. Andy Musits. Dr. Musits was a WISER Fellow for two years, with his home base being the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. During this time, he planned, implemented and evaluated a sophisticated central venous catheter insertion simulation curriculum research project comparing expert instruction with non-expert instruction in the lab setting. Through a series of mentoring and planning meetings, Dr. Phrampus and Dr. O’Donnell assisted in all phases of the project, which included recruiting other members of the research team, addressing research challenges such as initiating the IRB process, 3D printing unique part task trainers and recruiting subjects.

Continuing to mentor Dr. Musits after his completion of the Fellowship and acceptance of a faculty position at Brown University, Paul and John supported his work through publication in Simulation in Healthcare (Musits AN, Phrampus PE, Lutz JW, Bear TM, Maximous SI, Mrkva AJ, O’Donnell JM. (2019) Physician vs. Non-Physician instruction: Evaluating an expert curriculum-competent facilitator model for simulation-based central venous catheter training. Simulation in Healthcare. 14, 4, 228-234.)

WISER values the lifelong friendships that the institution has established with participating Fellows. The institution intends for communication with Fellows to continue beyond the program. After completing the Fellowship program, Fellows will email WISER to share that they have launched their first course at their respective institutions or to ask for advice regarding an issue at their healthcare simulation center.

To apply to the WISER Fellowship Program, interested simulationists should contact the institution to begin the application process. Program availability currently has rolling start dates, with costs available upon request.

More About WISER

Established in 1994, the Winter Institute for Simulation, Education and Research (WISER) is a world class multidisciplinary training, development and research facility. WISER is a critical part of the infrastructure of the University of Pittsburgh and the UPMC Health System. WISER’s mission is to create education and training programs, along with patient safety solutions including those utilizing clinical simulation-based modalities to provide a safer environment for patients of the UPMC Health System and its affiliates.

WISER is dedicated to the advancement of healthcare simulation and education to improve patient safety, education, mentorship, systems design and research to enhance the high-quality delivery of healthcare. This mission fulfills itself in academic curricula, hospital-based training initiatives, research, advanced instructional technology and the development of innovative healthcare simulation programs. WISER is a world leader in healthcare simulation. WISER has trained and informed tens of thousands of future and practicing healthcare professionals in a variety of clinical simulation settings.

Using the web-based Simulation Information Management System (SIMS) – developed at WISER – staff, faculty, and students can interact across the globe. SIMS provides an operational and educational backbone, efficiently scheduling classes, delivering cutting edge curriculum, and collecting and reporting on vital data that allows WISER to be a premier healthcare simulation education program. By quickly implementing this learning in the care of actual patients at UPMC hospitals, and by sharing results with the healthcare community through published articles, WISER improves patient safety in the Pittsburgh area and around the world.

Since receiving accreditation from the Society for Simulation in Healthcare (SSH) for a fellowship program, WISER is now one of only a few centers in the world accredited by SSH in all five specialty areas. WISER’s main campus is a 20,000 sq. foot facility – additionally, WISER operates eight Satellite Centers at UPMC hospitals across Western Pennsylvania. WISER is directed by Dr. Paul Phrampus, MD, who is also a professor in the Departments of Emergency Medicine and Anesthesiology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Learn More About WISER


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