Blog post by SimGHOSTS President, Scott Crawford

As President of SimGHOSTS, the world’s largest organization dedicated to promoting and training simulation operators, I decided to take the Certified Healthcare Simulation Operations Specialist (CHSOS) exam offered by the Society for Simulation in Healthcare. It has been a dream of our organization to have a way of demonstrating the diverse technical and educational background possessed by those who excel in positions as simulation technicians. When initially presented with this concept from SSH two years ago, we were developing our own similar test and certification, but felt it would be a detriment to our mission and those we represent to provide competing and potentially conflicting ideas of certification for our burgeoning profession.

I must give credit to the exam and the exam design. The questions, although capable of improvement, do what they were designed to determine – find out if you have a vast baseline knowledge about healthcare simulation, and understand the tools, techniques, and  educational constructs to support it.

The test does not by itself give proof of your abilities as an operator – no one can demonstrate technical skill on a multiple choice exam – nor does poor testing performance mean that you are not an excellent technician. The test and the associated application to take it show dedication to the field of simulation and to the technical operation of the equipment required to deliver high-quality simulation.

Should every technician take this test? No, but if you are dedicated and passionate about what you do and want to be viewed as a leader in the operation and use of simulation, if you hold your simulation rooms and facilitators to a higher standard and demand rehearsals as though you are putting on a performance, then this is currently the best way to be recognized for your talents.

The test identifies baseline medical knowledge that would be required to read through a simulation case and know how to set it up and communicate with learners and facilitators in healthcare language. Questions about technology and computers do not refer to commonly used terms and hardware, but rather to fringe ideas that show a deeper knowledge than standard operating practice. We as technical operators are still expected to know the terminology within simulation and the educational backbone upon which it is designed. Adult learning theory may not seem important to technical operators, but understanding educational constructs for content delivery can aid us in making correct recommendations to educators and administrators on what tools and equipment can best assist with their objectives.

Remember, simulation is meant to teach teamwork and remind us that we will make mistakes. Finding a way to recognize them and use the strengths of our team to deliver better, safer patient care is our goal. Whether you choose to take the exam or not, if you stay in healthcare simulation, I urge you to learn as much as you can about the needs of the learner so that you can help to more effectively provide an educational environment to facilitate their learning. You are a vital cog in the educational machine and can help to improve patient outcomes no matter what letters come after your name.

This certification is a starting block and a good one. Training is still the key; this is just a trophy for all your hard work. And, by the way for those of you still wondering, I passed.