Dear Residents, Medical Students – From a Simulation Specialist

Being a Simulation Specialist for an organization that is both clinically and institutionally driven, we have the opportunity to see almost every conceivable discipline come through our center. Jump Simulation, a part of OSF Innovation, partners with the University of Illinois College of Medicine-Peoria to educate medical students, residents, new nurses and seasoned clinicians within OSF HealthCare.

Recently, I was assisting a new Clinical Educator develop a case scenario for first-year residents when it hit me that I should address some of the newer physicians, practicing medical professionals and medical students about life on the other side of the curtain. We have an odd relationship - we get to know you a little, all while remaining fairly anonymous.

The biggest thing I can say to you is, we are the cheerleaders you never see. We are not the only ones, either. I have networked with Simulation Specialists from all over the US and it is one of those topics that comes up – us rooting for the ambitious. 

Witnessing Greatness

The control room can be a very busy place. Yet dark and sometimes quiet, there is a great deal of cognitive load happening behind the scenes as well as where you are standing. The most exciting moments are not just witnessing strong communication and teamwork with clinical skills, but also how the team responds to adversity when things are not working out. Watching excellent teams resolve together and dig through it are truly high-five moments in the control room – and you never get to see that. 

Another great example is when we run your teams through complex scenarios with either unexpected outcomes we did not previously account for, or some awesome dynamic happens in the room and it works out for everyone.

We ran a delirium tremens case for Emergency Department residents a few years back when a case scenario took an unexpected turn. We had to pause the simulation and regroup. As soon as we resumed play, it was like nothing ever happened. The residents, standardized patient and simulation team all seamlessly picked up where we paused and ended successfully. This was such a great moment because it demonstrated the shared interest in quality, buy-in and suspension of disbelief by the residents as well as the simulation team. 

We know that simulation can be weird and not always true to real-life, and that is okay. “What would you do in real life” is a saying you will get used to in your simulation experiences throughout your career. Getting your minds to buy-in is as important to us as using your time for valuable learning is important to you. Additionally, in all of my time in simulation, I have never encountered a facilitator that wanted to “trick” or “harm” their learning group, nor would it have been tolerated. We want the experience for every participant to be worth your time – shenanigans are not a part of that.

This year I had the opportunity to teach an IV/IO skills station to 2nd year medical students and it was a blast. One of my favorite parts of resident/med student education is the initiative and willingness these learners exude. Now that we are interacting more with the medical students for skills, it makes us very proud to see the simulation results as the students advance into residency.   

Supporting Medical Education

As a health care professional, I would be curious and wonder what really was happening behind the dark glass as I tried to run a code or deliver bad news to a patient. I can tell you for certain that from PCTs to Physicians, we try to bring you the most realistic experience because it enhances your reaction and response. Observing the participants treating the situation as they actually would is a tremendous way to learn, receive feedback, reflect and continually improve as a lifelong learning clinician. 

I want to personally congratulate all of you for making it as far as you have. We will continue to find innovative ways to make your experiences truly unique and valuable. In the meantime, embrace the simulations, know we celebrate with you and will continue to bring you our very best.

Categories: Clinical Simulation, Communication, Education, Education, Medical Students, Simulation, Simulation Specialists, Standardized Participant (SP)