Healthcare Simulation Mentorship and Facilitator, Faculty Development

While healthcare simulation education and training can greatly benefit learners within the clinical simulation industry, those with great knowledge of the field and the methods and operations involved can also be of great value. This is why healthcare simulation mentorship among facilitators and faculty is a resource that should be encouraged. Through clinical simulation mentorship, both facilitators and faculty members can become more confident and aware, in addition to being faced with new experiences and perspectives. This article, written by Tiffani Chidume, DNP, CCRN-K, CHSE, CHSOS, associate clinical professor and simulation center coordinator at the Auburn University College of Nursing, shares how and why such mentorship is crucial across medical simulation.

Many healthcare simulation professionals started their careers in clinical simulation through skills lab activities, having no idea what they were doing upon beginning. Like many others, I stepped into simulation with little knowledge of what to anticipate and what was expected. Seeing the dial turn to present times, where individuals appreciate the simulation pedagogy in a new light and are choosing it as an early career, is great.

If I could turn the clock back to when I started in healthcare simulation almost a decade ago, I wish I had found a mentor to help guide me through the ins and outs of clinical simulation. However, I cannot deny the fortitude and knowledge that was gained by having to figure this information out on my own, primarily through referencing healthcare simulation websites, journals, and of course, trial and error.

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Thus, I believe that mentorship is crucial in medical training and in healthy simulation practices. Various types of mentorship include preceptorships, apprenticeships, fellowships, and residencies. These programs are designed to provide intentional, purposeful coaching in the specified area in which one will be working.

Most nurses, physicians, and paramedics have “shadowed” or trained with someone that has been in the profession longer than they have and can therefore provide instruction and insight. I understand some of these experiences were probably not optimal, but I believe even if someone was not the best trainer, one can still learn from them – even if they learn what not to do.

In healthcare simulation, many institutions do not have a formal mentorship program, but I can attest that these programs are a great way to orient and train new simulationists. The majority of them may have had an informal mentorship, with a “learn and go” format, in which the trainee may be placed with a combination of more experienced personnel.

There will always be a balancing act in mentorship between ensuring one’s responsibilities are completed while managing the knowledge and skills of those being onboarded at the same time. According to Terpstra and King (2021), the lack of formal healthcare simulation mentorship and faculty development may be due to time constraints but is certainly needed in order to advance strong healthcare simulation and debriefing skills.

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Like mentorship, facilitator development is a critical element in healthcare simulation education. We, as simulationists, no matter the discipline, have a duty to continue our education and ensure we are up-to-date in evidence-based practices and clinical simulation standards.

Many of the numerous healthcare simulation organizations and special interest groups (SIGs) have recognized the need for mentorship and facilitator development and answered the call. Additionally, the International Nursing Association for Clinical Simulation and Learning (INACSL) helps advance the science of nursing simulation and offers various opportunities for mentoring and learning on the various Special Interest Groups (SIGs) pages.

Further, the organization offers the International Nursing Association of Clinical and Simulation Learning (INACSL) Simulation Education Program (ISEP), a 12-course comprehensive simulation program. The Society for Simulation in Healthcare (SSH) has also developed a membership roadmap that allows one to gauge where they are sim-wise (novice, some experience, experienced) and suggest activities to increase professional development.

SSH serves the global community of simulation of those working to improve the quality of healthcare. SSH also provides a mentor/mentee program, SIGS, and a question & answer forum, SimConnect. SimGHOSTS supports the career development of those with a primary focus on simulation technology.

The Association of Standardized Patient Educators (ASPE) promotes best practices in the utilization of standardized patients. ASPE provides a mentorship program through its’ virtual learning center and SIGS. For the organizations listed, subscribers can sign up to be a mentor, mentee, and in some, both, depending on one’s focus. Unfortunately, all available mentorship and facilitator programs cannot be listed here but know that resources are available.

Mentorship and facilitator development in simulation has been deemed important enough for INACSL to include mentorship in some of the Healthcare Simulation Standards of Best Practice, found here. The new INACSL Healthcare Simulation Standard of Best Practice: Professional Development emerged in 2021.

The new standard has defined necessary criteria and elements surrounding education needs assessments, participating in professional development activities, and reevaluating to ensure professional development goals are met. More information on this standard can be found at the INACSL standards site listed above as well as on’s website, a great insight by the Founder & CEO of, Lance Baily.

Expert simulationists encourage a tiered approach in simulation faculty [facilitators], stating “Simulation faculty development has become a high priority for the past couple of years because simulation programs have rapidly expanded in health systems and universities worldwide. A formalized, structured model for developing quality facilitators of simulation is helpful to support and sustain this continued growth in the field of simulation” (Peterson et al., 2017).

Other simulationists responded with a viewpoint agreeing that mentorship is in fact needed across healthcare simulation, but the tiered approach may not be feasible for most. Whereas, the “volunteered” time commitment and deadlines to complete the certification plan may prove to be too onerous for busy healthcare workers” (Kumar et al., 2018). They go on to say that “mentor and faculty development program should tip the scales in favor of support to ensure high participation and sustainability.”

Both viewpoints are valid and acknowledge the importance of mentorship and facilitator development. The best option may be to assess each simulation center or program’s resources independently and offer what is achievable and viable. The most significant point established is: Mentorship and facilitator/faculty development in healthcare simulation are essential and will aid in healthy clinical simulation practices for all. Thanks to various simulation organizations, more resources, guidelines, and roadmaps are available than ever before to enhance the knowledge development of new and seasoned simulationists.

Kumar, A. H., Howard, S. K., & Udani, A. t. D. (2018). Tipping the scales: Prioritizing mentorship and support in simulation faculty development. Simulation in Healthcare, 13(1), 72.

Peterson, D. T., Watts, P. I., Epps, C. A., & White, M. L. (2017). Simulation faculty development: A tiered approach. Simulation in Healthcare, 12(4), 254-259.

Terpstra, N., & King, S. (2021, 2021/10/01/). The missing link: Cognitive apprenticeship as a mentorship framework for simulation facilitator development. Clinical Simulation in Nursing, 59, 111-118.

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