May 28, 2024By Erin Carn Bennett

How to Run the Very First Scenario for Educators New to Clinical Simulation

For a new clinical simulation educator, facilitating their first clinical simulation scenario in a new career and role can be daunting and overwhelm the new simulationist. The skill to deliver a new education method is one that, with time, becomes quite comfortable but requires a lot of time and practice as a clinical simulation educator. This article by Erin Carn-Bennett, MSN, RN, will explore how to prepare as a new clinical simulation educator for the delivery of a very first clinical simulation scenario. Key tips will be shared to establish a foundation for a successful first clinical simulation scenario.

Healthcare Simulation Education Formal Foundation Pillars

As a new healthcare simulation educator, consider what formal clinical simulation educational foundations are available to be provided to the new staff member training prior to the commencement of the facilitation of clinical simulation scenarios. As a new clinical simulation educator, consider whether there has been adequate formal and informal education, induction, and orientation provided as a new educator. A satisfactory observation period can be incredibly useful for many new clinical simulation educators as they learn to be facilitators. Time to unpack observations and have questions answered in regard to the delivery methods of more experienced staff can also be incredibly valuable.


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As a new clinical simulation educator, spend time with the management of the clinical simulation program to get clear around goals and expected progression for the first six months and year. Before considering the delivery of a first clinical simulation scenario, take time to pause and know what is required to start and what expected progression timelines look like. Register for relevant educational opportunities early to formalize and progress as a clinical simulation educator. Ask about how and when feedback will be delivered in regard to performance.

As a new clinical simulation educator, when feeling adequately orientated and educated, there may be a sense that the time has come to prepare to deliver a first clinical simulation scenario. Prior to the delivery of the scenario, get to know the environment in which the clinical simulation will be delivered and the potential participant group that will attend. Start to plan the expected educational requirements for this group of participants in the clinical simulation scenario.


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Preparation Prior to Game Time will Always Pay Off


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Have clear learning objectives for the clinical simulation scenario and ensure a plan to deliver the clinical simulation scenario in the correct style and modality to suit the learners best. Consider what debrief methodology will be used and how comfortable the new clinical simulation educator is in the use of this debrief and clinical simulation style. Use cognitive aids such as debrief cards to prompt and remind of the debriefing stages and what is required for the debriefing role. Ensure that every faculty member has a scenario sheet so they are aware of the background story for the patient, how the case will progress, and the expected learning outcomes.

For example, have clear roles in the clinical simulation scenario, such as scenario director, simulation technician, debriefer, and co-debriefer, as staff numbers allow. This will depend and vary based on the clinical simulation scenario delivered. As a new clinical simulation educator, make sure to be aware of what each clinical simulation faculty member’s roles are and who has responsibility for specific actions in the clinical simulation such as pre-brief, orientation to the manikin, answering of clinical questions in the scenario, operation of the manikin and also debrief.

Don’t be shy about asking for a run-through before the first clinical simulation scenario. Just as clinical simulation is helpful for participants’ muscle memory, this is also helpful for faculty. The more practice beforehand, the more comfortable this will feel on the day of delivery of the scenario. Ensure adequate support from other clinical simulation staff in the scenario delivery. Make a clear plan of how to ask for help if stuck during the clinical simulation scenario. Be sure to voice any concerns at any point of the clinical simulation scenario delivery. Ensure everyone is comfortable in the role assigned for the first clinical simulation scenario delivery. If not comfortable, speak up and ask if possible to switch to a different faculty role that feels more comfortable.

Talk with the participants prior to the scenario about their previous clinical simulation experiences and get to know them. Consider framing questions about what they hope to learn in the clinical simulation so this can be a reference in the debrief or knowledge within the scenario to know where to pitch learning at different points dependent on clinical experience or the lack thereof. Some participants may not have had great previous experiences in clinical simulation, which can be useful knowledge for a facilitator.



Feedback and Reflection will Propel Future Performances Skyward

Request feedback from clinical simulation participants either with formal feedback surveys or informally. Be sure to ask for feedback from the clinical simulation program faculty after the clinical simulation scenario. Ask for tips and tricks from the more senior clinical simulation staff members. Ask them to reflect on their days of facilitation of scenarios for the first time. More experienced staff can be a portal of incredibly helpful solutions to advance clinical simulation practice faster.

Use a reflective practice to improve for next time within either a formal or informal capacity. This may be an informal conversation with a clinical simulation colleague who was present to see individual performance or in a more formalized manner. A professional supervisor can be incredibly useful when new to a more senior healthcare role, such as within the education field. Reflection on performance and how to improve for the next time can be useful to speed up the advancement of practice.

This article has explored how to prepare and deliver a very first clinical simulation scenario as a new clinical simulation educator. As a new educator, the very first delivery of a clinical simulation scenario can be an overwhelming thought. The discussion has centered on preparation, education, colleague support, practice, and role clarity. As with most clinical simulation-related concepts, preparation and practice usually favor a successful outcome.

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