Mentoring Each Other: The Faculty Journey In Simulation-Based Education

By: Sabrina Koh

Faculty development and education leadership are areas that require focus and continuous growth. In Asia, where simulation-based education (SBE) is emerging as a subspecialty in nursing education, it is often assumed that faculty have the ability to facilitate simulations as content experts, and institutions and administrators see no urgent need for faculty development. It is assumed that all health care educators, by virtue of their role, are able to employ any teaching methods, and that SBE merely involves applying training hardware to existing curricula or lessons plans.

Based on these assumptions, it is natural that institutions will invest in infrastructure instead of faculty development. Infrastructure is often seen as a one-off investment, whereas faculty development is ongoing and difficult to evaluate in terms of return on investment.

In 2007, I led a team of intensive care nurse educators who were beginning their role in SBE. Although I was well aware of what was to be taught, I did not yet realize the importance of faculty development. We grappled with identifying fundamental skills for the educator group, but at that point, there was no defined model of core skills for simulation educators. We took small steps in fulfilling what needed to be done and saw each other through the process. This involved frequent huddles where we engaged in thinking aloud to explore ideas and align tasks and teaching to the requirements of our job descriptions (the closest guide that we had at that point). Deliberating as a team we supported each other in hospital-wide in-situ simulation training and created the Rapid Escalation Criteria protocol.

The nursing education department in the hospital did not have a technician to support simulation initiatives, and educators often doubled as technicians. We were using the SimMan Mark 2 (wired system) for all clinical simulations, and we fixed the wires and AV recordings for simulation training. The situation forced us to learn the basic setup for the simulator and AV, troubleshoot the system, and initiate ideas to reduce the long preparation time for the wired system.

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Exposure to the regional/international stage

I learned from this experience that you don’t learn much until you are required to perform a task – this is the fundamental education concept that we now apply to our learners as well. I believe it is essential to recognize the tasks you want to learn and be actively involved not just once, but over a period of time that is long enough to experience all worse case scenarios. I am proud to report that, together with my colleagues, we clocked about 800 hours of clinical simulation per year through our collective efforts. The empowerment we experienced as a team yielded great returns in terms of acquired simulation skills. I also acquired mentoring skills through the experience of working and doing things together with the team. I was proud when our group of educators was invited to share our experiences on the international stage and conduct a workshop based on the Rapid Escalation Criteria protocol drill at the Asia regional SUN meeting. (See Photo 1.)

In 2010, the Society for Simulation in Healthcare (SSH) introduced its certification program, and Certified Healthcare Simulation Educator (CHSE) standards were published to standardize core skills for faculty. The standards are very relevant to developing faculty. And in case you do not know when and where to start, I suggest going back to basics – mentoring and taking small steps.

I have moved on to other institutions to help establish simulation centers and further develop faculty. Based on my previous positive experiences, I continue to assume the roles of leader and “do-er,” working alongside my colleagues. There is no better way to mentor others than to be in the scene together with the team and living the experience. On one occasion, I was invited to teach in China. Instead of giving the plenary lecture alone, I asked that my junior colleague share the plenary stage and conduct regional workshops with me. My intention always is to provide exposure for growth by having educators play an equal role in such activities. (See Photo 2.)

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Partnering in simulation-based education

Reflecting back, I think of my role as crew chief – my job is to marshal and lead faculty to their runway. Once they take off, it is for them to navigate the rest of their journey. As for me, I value the experiences I have had that have allowed me to develop in my role as mentor. I am now better able to anticipate the learning needs of others and tailor the learning experience. I always see great value in faculty development.

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Partnering in simulation-based education

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