June 28, 2022By Remy Roe

Benefits of Professional Development for the Healthcare Simulation Teams

Continued education is paramount to the success of professionals in any field, especially those working in healthcare simulation where the stakes are high. A simulationist must constantly seek to develop themselves, their team, and their clinical simulation program if they are to fulfill their duties in enabling healthcare professionals to safely save and sustain life. The good news is that opportunities currently exist for such medical simulation training. The goal of this HealthySimulation.com article is to discuss the value of implementing professional development for any healthcare simulation team.

Some resources include the Simulation User Network (SUN), Laerdal Medical’s online resources, the extensive archive of webinars and articles on healthysimulation.com, the International Meeting on Simulation in Healthcare (IMSH), SimOps, and numerous podcasts. The Society for Simulation in Healthcare (SSIH) website even has an entire section on professional development.

Ask any number of medical simulation technicians, educators, directors, or fellows how they came to enter the field of healthcare simulation, and the answer will often be that healthcare simulation was a second or third career they sidestepped into. Over the years, this has resulted in a field rich in diversity and the benefits that come with that. A review of medical simulation center control rooms across the globe may find teams that have staffed an EMT, nurse, military veteran, professional actor, or even a former Apple genius. This means that not everyone in healthcare simulation has a clinical background.

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Even if a team does consist of former and current healthcare professionals, standards, techniques, and procedures may differ from one institution to the next. For all these reasons, there are no less than three significant benefits that come with making professional development a part of the clinical simulation team’s culture: investing in the team, enabling the team to anticipate the needs of the customer, and advancing the field overall.

Investing in Healthcare Simulation Teams

A field full of healthcare simulation expertise comes with the risk of overemphasizing the merit of one’s credentials and affiliations. Continued education sends the message to those without published research and advanced degrees that they are valued members of the team with a seat at the table. This creates a culture of mentorship and information sharing.

The young sim tech is knowledgeable in programming vital signs progressions to make a case run more smoothly. A team member with a background in EMS who knows how to realistically handoff at the beginning of a case in the ED. A nurse that knows how to set up a transducer for an arterial line or a laparotomy drape in the OR. The director with knowledge in adult learning theory, the ADDIE model, and composite risk management (CRM).

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These are all valuable skills that can be taught at all levels to not only invest in the efficacy of a healthcare simulation team but to relay the value brought by each individual. This is how institutional change is achieved, and how a clinical simulation team avoids techniques and practices whose success hinges on one person.

Enabling Learners to Anticipate Customer Needs

Simulationists often find themselves collaborating with faculty and learners who are master multi-taskers. However, to err is human. Teaching a sim tech the basics of hemodynamics would enable them to prompt a physician running a sim (i.e. “I noticed we have been increasing the heart rate steadily as the scenario progresses. Our blood pressure (BP) is still 120/80, would you like any change to that?”).

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The faculty member has been speaking to a confederate through an earpiece, serving as “Dr. Heart” on a consult mid-simulation, and just got reminded by the course coordinator that they now have only 10 minutes to debrief the scenario. This is something entirely probable (and reasonable) that they overlooked adjusting the BP.

Basic pharmacology is another opportunity to train the team. There could be a delay resulting from a sim tech taking longer than expected to grab a vial of Midazolam mid-case because all they can find is Versed. Finally, imagine if a sim team had copies of ACLS/PALS algorithms and were familiarized with their progressions. This insight would enable them to consult, develop, plan, and execute simulations more effectively.

Moving forward, healthcare simulation technicians and educators can now seek out credentialing opportunities offered by the SSH, like CHSOS and CHSE. Healthcare simulation has evolved from a specialty that people “fall into,” into a career seeing exponential growth. Encouraging continued education, offering tuition assistance, or even CHSOS/CHSE team study groups are ways to not only add value to the team but to the field as well.

Check out this comprehensive list of healthcare simulation degree programs.

Overall, healthcare simulation is a diverse field that draws individuals from varying disciplines to contribute to experiential learning focused on safely saving lives. Continued education brings value to the team by increasing team cohesion, efficacy, and the field as a whole. As the field continues to advance, and as the use of interdisciplinary collaboration expands within facilities and institutions, professional development will remain essential among learners and professionals alike.

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