The Silent Innovators...


Blog post by SimGHOSTS UK Chair Jane Nicklin

Over the last five years the growth and recognition of the role of the skills and simulation technician in the UK has also uncovered an 'untapped' expertise that we are seeing more and more frequently, but as yet, is not utilized or even appreciated...evidence of creativity and innovative ways of working!

Products, basic equipment i.e. part-task trainers and educational resources are being developed 'silently' by skills and simulation technicians within UK organizations. They are usually the result of an idea, an identified need or an off-the-cuff request from faculty for a bespoke model to fulfill specific course learning objectives. These unrecognized creations usually have a major impact on reducing running costs and generating income but more importantly increase the effectiveness, quality and realism of simulated practice in healthcare.

In the US, it seems that such innovative practices by SimTechs are viewed quite differently and I am guessing for most, is seen as a part of their role and daily activities. During my trip to the windy city for SimGHOSTS 2014 I visited Simulation Centres that had designated, appropriately equipped rooms/areas referred to as 'Innovation hubs' where equipment design and development is encouraged and fabrications and the manufacturing of replacement parts i.e. casting and moulding using silicone and other materials is facilitated alongside the SimTechs daily tasks.  It was awesome to see technicians not only contributing to the value to their teams, departments and organizational output but being given the opportunity to demonstrate the skills that we all know they have!

In the UK, such creations and work activities are currently viewed quite differently and although there are some occasions where creations and innovative ideas are shared; the majority stay within the confines of the Centres. The SimGHOSTS-ASPiH 2015 DIY Forum was a brilliant opportunity to bring home-made products to the table!  Unfortunately, the development of innovation capability, sharing or any future commercialization are lost within busy 'not your job' departments.  It is interesting that there is still an expectation that central investment in the equipment, staffing and infrastructures of skills and simulation centres across the UK will demonstrate a return-on-investment, sustainability and cost efficiency! Recognition and nurturing the creative skills of skills and simulation technicians would definitely contribute to this prospect...however the powers that be still need some persuading!  Next month, I intend to put pen to paper about a particular product journey that is close to my own heart, but in the interim, I would really appreciate you sharing your success stories or just simple advice to help us move this forward in the UK.