How to Get the Most Benefit from Simulation Community Memberships
by SimGHOSTS Board Member, Matthew Charnetski
Full disclosure before we get started, I’m a joiner… I am currently on the board of directors of SimGHOSTS and am on several committees for The Society for Simulation in Healthcare. This doesn’t represent the extent of my engagement with the simulation community, but those are my two formal relationships with simulation organizations. Rather than a conflict of interest, I see this as more evidence in what I am about to share with you, that I practice what I preach, and that I have spent a lot of time considering the pros and cons of different aspects of the simulation communities around us.
About Healthcare Simulation Communities
What are Healthcare Simulation communities? Ultimately, this can be formal, structured groups or it can be informal professional connections. But, specifically and for the purposes of this post, formal structured groups will be the focus. These organizations include, but certainly are not limited to, groups such as The Society for Simulation in Healthcare (SSiH), International Nursing Association for Clinical Simulation and Learning (INACSL), The Gathering of Healthcare Simulation Technology Specialists (SimGHOSTS), or the Society for Simulation in Europe (SESAM).
What is the purpose of these organizations? Each organization has developed its own charge, mission, and vision. Depending on one’s role, context, profession, and even discipline, different organizations may have different applicability. That said, consider expanding the scope of simulation knowledge by considering as many organizations as possible. There are often unexpected overlaps in the challenges and experiences one might have as a Healthcare Simulation Professional and organizations that may seem to not specifically relate to a specific role may offer some perspective or may have even solved a problem that is currently being faced!
When evaluating organizations that may be of interest, set aside specific roles. Whether it be Simulation Educator, Simulation Technician, Simulation Specialist, Simulation Program Coordinator; Nurse, Physician, Paramedic, or whatever other different profession, look at the benefits. See what is appealing and try them out!
Membership has its privileges
So, what are the potential benefits of these organizations? It is continually surprising to discover what these organizations offer. First and foremost, access to the greater Healthcare Simulation community. Healthcare Simulation can be hugely rewarding, this profession is a critical aspect of the care delivered to and safety of future patients around the world. It can also be intensely frustrating and takes a great deal of energy to be creative, engaging, and “on” so much of the time. The opportunity to lean on the simulation community can be rejuvenating and refilled one’s energy and drive to press onward.
In addition to the less tangible benefit of community, there are blogs, listservs, publications, committees, and conferences that one can gain access to solely through membership in these groups. Additionally, there is often reciprocity between organizations where one may receive discounts on membership with an organization as a member of another. Conferences and certifications are also sometimes less expensive as a member of an organization.
Blogs are a great source to find posts from members of the community and other contributors related to topics of interest to those in and near their community. These are a great resource to find posts from members of the community and other contributors related to topics of interest to those in and near their community. Clearly readers here have some familiarity with blogs to have found their way here. Some organizations offer blogs where the community contributes, like this one. Others are primarily content that is brought to the blog through some specific subset of the organization. Paid contributors, boards of directors, subject matter experts; each has its own flavor and audience. Moreover, some blogs specifically encourage conversation where others act more as a repository for content. Some are paid services, some are part of membership to an organization, and many may be free.
Listservs have become ubiquitous. They can be a great way for organizations to reach the larger community and specific interested sub groups of that community. Listservs are generally “opt-in,” meaning that one must specifically sign up. These are not “mailing lists,” per se, with the primary distinction being that members of the listserv typically have a mechanism for responding directly to an email from the listserv and that email is delivered to other members. This can foster conversation on topics that are relevant to the larger community and the special subsets of that community. An advantage of listservs is that one need not seek the conversation, it is brought to one’s email and can be read and responded to in a single location.
Several organizations have their own publications. Some are electronic, some print, a few are even both. Some are peer reviewed journals, some as simple as a newsletter or other kind of mailing/e-mailing. Publications may not have the same immediacy as a blog or listserv, but they are often repositories for substantial knowledge, standards, and best practices within the field related to the community. Particularly those that are peer reviewed and indexed, these have the possibility of presenting some of the most current and studied practices in one’s field.
Committees in Healthcare Education and Healthcare Simulation organizations can be a great way to get involved, allow one to contribute to the community, enhance one’s resume, and allow interaction with other people working to build upon and expand the organization. There are definitely differing levels of engagement and required activities depending on the organization and committee. Engagement with these groups to be rewarding personally and professionally.
Conferences and Meetings
Conferences and meetings are often the most obvious benefit of membership. Sometimes these events may be free or of relatively low cost. Routinely they offer access to and collaboration with the community as a whole that is difficult to find elsewhere. Depending on the organization and event, one is likely to find large group lectures and plenary sessions, small group breakouts, vendor presentations, workshops, prep courses, and more! Additionally, this is a great time to take a small break from the daily grind, engage with the larger community, recharge, and be able to return to one’s home organization revitalized and ready to continue pressing forward to create the best possible programming!
Volunteer Volunteer Volunteer
So, how does one get involved? Volunteer. Reach out. Watch for opportunities. Google search. Ask colleagues what they’re looking at and who they are working with. Join. Free or paid, become a member of these organizations and check back often. The leadership of these organizations will ask for help regularly. If something is interesting, volunteer. If something is interesting and it is not immediately clear how to volunteer, reach out and ask! Organizations like these thrive on membership. Not just financially, but they require engagement at all levels from the members to be able to continue delivering to the needs of the community!