Canadian Pilot's Use of Simulation Technology- What Can Healthcare Learn?


Blog post by Malcolm Whyte, Clinical Learning Resource Centre 

Canadian Pilot's Use of Simulation Technology - What Can Healthcare Learn?

The Canadian transportation safety board, known as Transport Canada, has recently approved a rule change stating airline pilots are no longer obligated to fly an actual aircraft to maintain a valid license for flying. This has caused some debate in the pilot community as to the validity of simulated flights vs. real flights.

Here’s an excerpt from the article: “Canadian pilots are no longer obligated to fly an aircraft or helicopter in order to maintain a valid licence after Ottawa changed the rules to require only flight-simulator testing, a move aviation experts say threatens public safety.”

​Aircraft simulation is in the midst of change and “buy-in” from pilots is needed for suspension of disbelief required in a high-fidelity simulation. Flight simulation has been shown to parallel healthcare simulation¹, and this could signal a possible future change in medical certification boards, such as the United States Medical Licensing Examinations or the Medical Council of Canada, authorizing simulated exams and procedures to maintain certification. We might see a similar change in healthcare simulation, whereby healthcare professionals could maintain their certifications through medical simulation alone without practicing on actual patients. It could possibly become unethical, or malpractice, to practice any medical procedure on a real patient without simulating the encounter and passing a high stakes assessment.

A 2014 study by the US-based National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) paved the way for this change in the largest, most comprehensive study to date involving the use of simulation as a substitute for traditional clinical experience. Results of the study demonstrated that high-quality simulation could be substituted for up to 50% of traditional clinical hours across the pre-licensure nursing curriculum. Read the abstract here.

Dare to dream, fellow Simulation Specialists!

¹ Singh, Neil (2009) “On a wing and a prayer: surgeons learning from the aviation industry” PMC 2738773