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The value of simulation in the healthcare setting

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

 The value of simulation in the healthcare setting

“A good simulation … gives us a sense of mastery over experience.” Heinz R Pagels (1939 to 1988)

Simulation presents a powerful ‘bridge’ between theory and real life experiences—a safe place in which to learn and challenge ourselves and our teams—providing an opportunity to significantly improve both individual and team performance, confidence, patient safety and better healthcare outcomes.

Education at Mater is evolving well beyond the traditional ‘apprenticeship’ model of clinical teaching and learning toward a multilayered, interprofessional, team-based approach to practice development. This is changing how our organisation, clinical units, teams and individual clinicians engage in learning and development.

The use of simulation has grown exponentially throughout Mater since our world-class clinical simulation facility opened in  2012. In 2014, we strengthened our partnership with Center for Medical Simulation in Boston, the recognised world leader in healthcare simulation, becoming the only Affiliate Partner in Australia, and one of only three in the world. Mater Education has also achieved a number of Australian-first simulation based activities and is becoming a leader in simulation in Australiasia.

How have we leveraged simulation for better healthcare outcomes?

Perhaps our two most notable simulation initiatives were the Australian-first 24-hour testing of Mater Private Hospital Springfield prior to its opening in 2015, and leading the Mater Mothers’ Hospital and Vanderbilt University Hospital teams through a simulated in-utero spinal surgery, prior to the Australian-first surgery being undertaken at Mater.

The Springfield simulation involved a series of process tests culminating in an Australian-first ‘24-hour simulation’ event, where the entire facility and workforce operated as a simulated hospital with community volunteers acting as patients. All shifts—morning, afternoon and evening—and all areas of the hospital, from operating theatres to food services, were simulated to check teams and processes throughout the day (including handover). A number of scenarios were  thrown at the team, including deteriorating patients, a ‘walk-in’ patient experiencing chest pain, transfer of a patient to Mater’s South Brisbane campus in collaboration with Queensland Ambulance Service, and a birth (in a hospital with no maternity service). Mater was committed to ensuring the hospital was tested and safe before admitting patients, and 100 per cent of staff reported they were confident to open after the simulation event.

In July 2016, we simulated the Australian-first in-utero spinal surgery, allowing two teams from opposite sides of the world to step through the procedure together, play out different scenarios, and ultimately, ensure the safety of the mother and baby was optimised prior to surgery the following day. The Vanderbilt team, who pioneered the surgery in 1997, had never undertaken a simulated surgery or transitions, so can now take this learning back to their team in the United States.

What’s next?

Our inaugural Simulation Fellowship program is underway with two Fellows appointed in 2016 and two more will commence in 2017. We have a teaching affiliation with Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professions in Boston which allows our Fellows to attain a post-graduate qualification in simulation, the only one of its kind issued by the Institute of Health Professions, through Mater Education.

Simulation is proven to assist the acquisition and practising of skills, but it is also as an incredibly valuable tool for interprofessional learning and building effective teams. Bringing together the multidisciplinary team in an immersive simulation helps build problem-solving skills, strengthens communication, clinical judgement and decision-making ... all of which leads to safer, low-variability, exceptional patient-centred care, and better outcomes for all Mater patients.


Donna Bonney, Chief Executive Officer, Mater Education Limited

Posted: 6/09/2016 9:22:29 AM by News @ Mater | with 0 comments

Tags: Mater Education, simulation

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