How to Restart a Healthcare Simulation Program
As the clinical simulation community rises after a culture of many cancellations post the global COVID-19 pandemic and chronic recruitment and retention problems for staff, the need to restart and refresh clinical simulation programs is a reality for many globally. There are many challenges faced by clinical simulation faculty across the globe to advocate for the importance of clinical simulation-based education continually and to continue amidst numerous challenges within the healthcare workforce. This article by Erin Carn-Bennett, RN, MSN, will explore the process to restart and revamp a healthcare simulation program after a lull in demand for healthcare simulation-based education.
As employees and learners within clinical simulation programs, there is no need to explain the vast benefits of the incredible learning modality experienced during clinical simulation. However, the work environment in which clinical simulation is delivered amongst an array of competing demands from clinical workload can be challenging on many levels. For many clinical simulation programs globally, healthcare simulation-based education has been canceled over the last four years due to many relentless challenges. These relentless challenges have been due to the global pandemic and lack of staff to enable education to proceed.
For many healthcare clinical areas, management has had to cancel a lot of education, which included clinical simulation, due to a lack of other alternative options. However, as these issues will stay in healthcare in the foreseeable future, particularly around staff numbers, the need for clinical simulation to proceed is more forefront than ever. Also, baseline clinical knowledge and skills from clinical staff from all specialties have either dropped or decayed significantly due to a lack of education that has been able to proceed over a long time frame.
Review Current Status and Then Move Forward
After a lull in a healthcare simulation program’s demand, the first place to start with the restart process is to evaluate the current status. Consider what has impacted the lull in demand for the clinical simulation program and what has amplified or enabled this. Do this process without judgment and remove any assumptions as much as possible. Focus on facts and growth through this process as a healthcare simulation program. Consider and be open to all factors other than the pandemic and staff levels.
After the review of the current status of the clinical simulation program has been completed, spend time making goals and hopes for the future. As a program, do not hold back in this process and also file this document away to reflect on in the future. As part of other review processes, this document is used to reflect on how much progress has occurred and adapt depending on results. To set and review goals regularly as a clinical simulation program can be incredibly useful and motivating. This process will also allow team members to have a voice in the direction of the clinical simulation program and feel included in the process.
A survey of the clinical simulation program’s learners’ and stakeholders’ needs can be a great place to start when restarting a healthcare simulation program. A survey can be an incredibly powerful way for the voices of consumers to be heard and for beneficial information to be shared with clinical simulation staff members. There is no use to assume what is vital for clinical simulation participants. The provision of a tool for clinical simulation participants to state what the need is from a healthcare simulation program is incredibly worthwhile for all involved. This process may reaffirm that the clinical simulation program is on the right track or may give data and demonstrate where to pivot future service provisions.
In the restart process, start to collect and also display data. This process will allow the clinical simulation program to review regularly with ease and be accountable to data when monitoring trends related to the number of participants who have attended clinical simulation within a predetermined time frame. For example: weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually.
View the LEARN CE/CME Platform Webinar Considerations for Developing, Improving, and Advancing Clinical Simulation Programs to learn more!
Consider the Use of a Clinical Simulation Champion
When in areas where clinical simulation is already established, consider which people within this area could be clinical simulation champions. This role could take on many roles and responsibilities dependent on the organization and the clinical simulation program. Some examples include how to become trained to debrief or run clinical simulations, assist to run clinical simulations, assist with encouraging attendance to clinical simulations, and review course material prior to clinical simulation courses. The options are limitless for the role of a clinical simulation champion in a clinical area.
Understand, as clinical simulation faculty, the pressure on clinical areas that have booked clinical simulation and do not become discouraged by cancellations. Maintaining relationships with clinical areas in times of cancellations is important, even though the clinical simulation faculty can become frustrated when a scenario that is exciting or has required a lot of preparation is canceled. Reassure clinical areas that cancellations are ok and do happen but that the clinical simulation team is looking forward to next time. Ensure that a follow-up scenario is booked to look forward to for both parties.
Continue to refocus even when times are incredibly tough, cancellation levels are high, and there are a lot of no answers regularly. Continue to focus on the positive outcomes clinical simulation can bring to attendees and keep trying to maintain forward momentum as a clinical simulation program. This can be a challenge at times. However, one should not be shied away from and should be acknowledged.
This article has looked at strategies for how to restart a healthcare simulation program after a lull in demand for clinical simulation based education. The global pandemic and issues that surround staff numbers of all disciplines have meant that there have been increased challenges to complete all education, in particular clinical simulation-based education, over the last four years. Concepts discussed have included a review of services, goals for the future, clinical simulation champions, and also how to deal with cancellations in a positive manner. As challenging as the last four years have been, there is a great need to rebuild clinical simulation into what has been a cancel culture at times for clinical simulation.
Erin Carn-Bennett is a Simulation Nurse Educator for the Douglas Starship Simulation Programme in Auckland, New Zealand. Carn-Bennett has her Masters of Nursing and has an extensive nursing career within pediatric emergency and also nursing management. She is passionate about debriefing and all things simulation. Carn-Bennett is a member of the IPSS board of directors. Carn-Bennett is the lead host of the podcast Sim Nurse NZ.