March 13, 2024By Teresa Gore

Northwestern Simulation to Meet Your Healthcare Simulation Professional Development Needs

Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine has developed valuable resources and programs for healthcare simulation professionals. Expert clinicians and simulation faculty of Feinberg School of Medicine simulation program have published Comprehensive Healthcare Simulation: Mastery Learning in Health Professions Education. This book presents the parameters of Mastery Learning (ML), an especially stringent variety of competency-based education that guides students to acquire essential knowledge and skills, measured rigorously against a minimum passing standard (MPS). This article will explore the book and faculty development opportunities at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine simulation program.

Comprehensive Healthcare Simulation: Mastery Learning in Health Professions Education

As both a scholarly resource and a teaching tool, this is a “how to” book that serves as a resource for a wide variety of health professions educators. Comprehensive Healthcare Simulation: Mastery Learning in Health Professions Education (2020) is a seminal source of information and practical advice about ML. This book is divided into five parts: Clinical Education in the Health Professions, The Mastery Learning Model, Mastery Learning in Action, Transfer of Training from Mastery Learning, and The Road Ahead. Complete with high-quality images and tables, chapters take an in-depth look into ML principles and practices across the health professions. Specific educational content instructs readers on how to build and present ML curricula, evaluate short and long-run results, conduct learner debriefing and give powerful feedback, set learner achievement standards, and prepare faculty for new educational roles.

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An invaluable addition to the Comprehensive Healthcare Simulation Series, Mastery Learning in Health Professions Education is written and edited by leaders in the field for practicing clinicians in a variety of health professions. This book series began in 2016 and continues to grow with the following topics:

  • Pediatrics
  • Neurosurgery
  • Surgery and Surgical Subspecialties
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Operations, Technology, and Innovative Practice
  • Anesthesiology
  • InterProfessional Team Training and Simulation
  • Mobile Medical Simulation
  • Mastery Learning in Health Professions Education
  • Program & Center Development
  • Best Practices in Standardized Patient Methodology
  • ECMO Simulation: A Theoretical and Practical Guide
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Improving Healthcare Systems
  • Pharmacy Education, Practice, and Research
  • Nursing

In the Foreword of the book, Dr. Barry Issenberg, MD, FACP, FSSH, the 2024-2025 Society for Simulation in Healthcare President, states, “To title a book Comprehensive Healthcare Simulation: Mastery Learning in Health Professions Education is to set high expectations. Fortunately, Dr. William McGaghie and his Northwestern University medical simulation and education research colleagues are up to the task. They pose the question: ‘How can we improve health professions education?’ This is a humbling question for leaders in their field to ask and an even more daunting task to back it up. This is not the first time the Northwestern University team asked this question, and they are determined to provide an answer.”

View the LEARN CE/CME Platform Webinar Simulation-based Mastery Learning: Efficacy, Clinical Outcomes, and Documenting Proficiency to learn more!

Designing & Implementing Simulation-Based Mastery Learning Curricula

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This 3-day immersive, comprehensive course will help participants acquire the knowledge and skills needed to design and implement mastery learning curricula. The course emphasizes book chapters and helps learners put the concepts from the book into practice. Mastery learning is a rigorous form of competency-based medical education. The use of the mastery model has been shown to improve patient care quality and lower healthcare costs. Northwestern Simulation faculty are leading experts in using simulation-based mastery learning to develop and measure clinical skills. This course will be held in Chicago in person at Northwestern Simulation. An institution can inquire about holding this course at their institution for groups of 10 or more.

After this course, participants will be able to:

  • Design simulation-based mastery learning curricula
  • Perform needs assessment
  • Modify existing curricula to align with mastery learning goals
  • Apply the concepts of deliberate practice to simulation-based mastery learning curricula
  • Select or develop instruments for outcomes assessment
  • Set performance standards to establish mastery learning goals
  • Rater training to ensure reliable assessment
  • Implement simulation-based mastery learning curricula
  • Create supportive learning environments needed for rigorous deliberate practice and robust performance feedback
  • Structure feedback and debriefing tailored to achieve mastery learning goals
  • Recognize the value of research and scholarship for program improvement and career advancement

This course is directed by William C. McGaghie, PhD, and Jeffrey H. Barsuk, MD, MS.

Dr. McGaghie is a Professor of Medical Education and Preventive Medicine. His research and scholarship address medical and health professions education, esp. skill acquisition and maintenance, outcome measurement, simulation technology, faculty development, and team science. Dr. Barsuk is a Professor of Medicine and Medical Education. He has focused the last twenty years of his research on optimizing physician, advanced practice provider, nurse, and paramedic clinical performance using simulation technology. These efforts have been based on the mastery learning theoretical framework, and his research team uses rigorous, validated standards for healthcare provider training.

On Demand Learning

Additional faculty development opportunities are provided by Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine Simulation. One example is the Creating Psychological Safety in the Learning Environment video in which Northwestern Simulation faculty share techniques for developing a psychologically safe learning environment during simulation-based education. This video is about 18 minutes in length in order to provide concise, quality information that learners can access anytime. Another example is the Simulation in Healthcare Education Podcast.

Simulation in Healthcare Education Podcast

The Simulation in Healthcare Education (SHE) podcast series focuses on key topics in healthcare simulation education through interviews of simulation faculty throughout the world. The first several podcasts focus on the book, Comprehensive Healthcare Simulation: Mastery Learning in Health Professions Education, published by the Northwestern Simulation team in 2020 through interviews with chapter authors and book editors. Podcast listeners should feel free to reach out to the Northwestern Simulation team via email:

More About Northwestern Simulation

Since 2010, Northwestern Simulation has provided a safe training environment for thousands of students and healthcare professionals. The faculty expertise and access to the latest simulation technology have made Northwestern Simulation a nationally recognized leader in the field of simulation-based training. Northwestern Simulation is located on a 30,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility on the Northwestern University Chicago campus. The simulation space trains learners in diverse areas of care delivery ranging from outpatient clinic visits to inpatient encounters in med/surg, intensive care, emergency room, OB/Gyn, and surgery. The space also contains an innovations laboratory where a full-time engineer builds and repairs simulators. A virtual reality room has computerized simulators that immerse learners in a simulated procedural skills training environment. Northwestern Simulation has an audiovisual system wired throughout the center, allowing for session recording, capture, and live and archived remote viewing.

Learn More About Northwestern University’ Northwestern Simulation Program!


  • McGaghie, W. C., Barsuk, J. H., & Wayne, D. B. (Eds.). (2020). Comprehensive healthcare simulation: mastery learning in health professions education. Springer Nature.

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