Simulation Centers and Faculty/Staff Development

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faculty staffing of simulation scenarios
by kathy gendron - Wednesday, May 12, 2010, 11:56 PM
We are a nursing school in which we incorporate simulation into each core nursing course. At this time we are looking at how to appropriately staff scenarios.  Currenty each faculty member individualy prepares, sets up, runs and debriefs the scenario. Our current ratio is 1 instructor (MSN) to 4-5 nursing students. We would like to better evaluate students and find doing all of this takes away from adequate evaluation. How are you staffing your scenarios?  What educational level do you find best supports each role in staffing?  Thank you!
We are still small and growing in our simulation development. We have two labs that we run simulations in and both are set up to video/recording. Currently, we had been have one instructor (MSN) in each lab to do what you do: set up, run, debrief and then do the next group. We have a Grad Ass. that does the recording and brings the DVD's to our lab so we can watch on the TV in there.

We will try something new in the fall as we acquired one more faculty member to help us (MSN) and we will now do the set up, run the sim, students move across the hall for group video self review/reflection, and then we will do a large group debriefing while the third faculty then does the clean up.

I do hear of people utilizing BSN students to do the set ups, clean ups, and even having the lab open for practice sessions. We have not done this but I hear it works out okay.

Kudos for using simulation in your core courses. This is a milestone many schools would like to achieve. Some thougths for you and others who are moving in this direction.

1. A meeting of the minds for all faculty in a course about what standardized scenarios should be, would allow more data to be collected and used for accreditation visits and overall course and program evaluation. If someone is a trained simulation facilitator with some content knowledge, and objectives and outcomes are planned ahead of time, then it should not matter what level of nursing education a simulation operator has. The discussion on the Society for Simulation in Healthcare list serve is about whether a non-physician can debrief a medical student or everyone is having this discussion on one level or another.

2. One way to standardize to decrease work load is to use a very scripted scenario and debriefing. Everyone does exactly the same scenario and debriefing. Then faculty get together and discuss what everyone seemed to know or did not know. This provides valuable information. Many times, what we think we taught, students did not learn.

3. Learn to program scenarios. Only one person needs to learn to program initially, and it is NOT that hard. The program can then be used by everyone, for debriefing purposes. It involved opening a folder on a Laerdal SimMan and clicking a mouse as students do or do not perform actions. This is then listed on  an event log in the simulation and can be used for debriefing. No note taking or paper evaluation needed on the part of the faculty. You can actually program in the evaluation form and complete it while the scenario is running. I did not understand WHY I would want to learn to program, till I was in charge of a multisite study using simulation.

4. Have one faculty member be in charge of a single scenario, and run it for all the students in a course. Each faculty could be the master of one or two scenarios. The advantage of this is that one faculty member will see all students perform the same scenario. This means that the bell curve will be come very clear and the faculty member will have very good data to share with the rest of the course faculty about what students know or not know about a given scenario. This also removes the halo effect ...we lose objectivity about our owns students...(I think it is human nature.) If someone else evaluates my students and reports back to me, I will gain a valuable second perspective that will either validate what I think I am seeing or give me food for thought and a more watchful eye.

This can be such a challenge. One suggestion might be to use video taping and/or live streaming of the simulations for assessment and evaluation by other faculty and by peer review. This provides more eyes and ears on the simulation experience to help pick up how well the students are meeting the objectives and they don't have to be there at the time. You can also use the recordings for self-assessment during the debriefing. It is not too expensive to set up and makes a big difference.


Andrea D. Ackermann PhD, RN, CNE
Associate Professor
Director of Simulation and Clinical Learning
Mount Saint Mary College
Newburgh, NY
Kudos to all of you setting-up, facilitating, debriefing, etc. all by yourself! I find this very challenging. Especially when simulation is new to both students and faculty.

We are still in the beginning stages and find that having the simulation lab coordinator set-up and run the computer portion, including voice of the patient, and having the faculty facilitate and debrief works well. Allows us to put our heads together during the scenario to take notes on items we want to mention during debriefing. Also allows the faculty to fully observe and occasionally play the role of the physician.

I work closely with the faculty in developing the scenario. Having been a faculty member does help with adapting the objectives and scenario to the students educational level.

The beauty of simulation is that each program can adapt it to their individual needs with whatever staff they have available.

Vickie Valenziano, RN, MSN
Simulation Lab Coordinator
Cuesta College