Setting the Standard: The Benefits of Simulator Programming


Blog post by SimGHOSTS board member Rachel Bailey

Setting the Standard: The Benefits of Simulator Programming

Standards are provided in healthcare simulation for participants to have the same experience when meeting their learning objectives. Common errors lie in the belief that simulation cannot be standardized due to different learning objectives for different types of education. In reality, standardization should not be class related; standardization should be a broad spectrum that everyone can utilize regardless of the type of educational materials.

One example of a broad standard that all facilities can adhere to would be utilization of scenario programming. Scenario programming creates a uniform simulation, better communication between simulation staff, increased simulation efficacy, and focused learning objectives. When scenarios are correctly programmed they should reflect the curriculum and set the standard for all participants to experience the same stages of a scenario. Running simulation "on the fly" does not guarantee that all participants will receive the same training. Simulation operators running simulation "on the fly" are dependent on the educator's prompts which may vary between different educators. "On the fly" simulation depends on perception which is subjective, especially when it comes to health conditions. Crucial vital signs are changed and timing is varied.

To correctly program scenarios, operators give their technical and operational expertise, while the educator concentrates primarily on the curriculum. This creates a uniform expectation of how the simulation will operate. Moreover, programming a scenario allows for all simulation staff to pilot the scenario and perform adjustments when necessary, rather than adjusting during a student simulation. It is possible and should be implemented that all scenarios be programmed regardless of the type of class.

Scenario programs are created, piloted and applied to reflect and mirror the curriculum. Developing scenario programming with time hacks and algorithms can guide simulation staff throughout the scenario. Time hacks are used as a way to ensure that stages in a scenario happen at the exact same moment throughout student groups. Time hacks also ensure that simulation staff are cognizant of the elapsed time during simulations (a 40 minute programmed simulation will always be 40 minutes whether it is group A, or group F). Programs allow for students to react and treat conditions in an appropriate time manner. If, however, students do not meet the allotted time, the scenario will still progress to the next stage, up to the educator's perspective.

Algorithms are simple diagrams with the scenario stages, what to expect from students, what to expect in the manikin and what to expect from the educators. Algorithms are created for the operators and educators to help in stage transitions. If at any point crucial objectives are not met during simulation, educators will take note, and brief accordingly at the end of the scenario.