Forward-thinking healthcare educators report that simulation-based learning is transforming the healthcare career education and professional development which they offer to medical professionals and students.
Simulation eLearning improves the engagement, knowledge retention and workplace readiness of their students. New methodologies, enabled by advances in learning technology, are driving deeper learning and delivering better outcomes.
Cindy Parke, RNC, CNM, MSN is the CEO of Professional Education Center (PEC). PEC provides continuing nursing and midwifery education in the field of obstetrics and has reached over 1 million nurses so far.
The vision and goal of PEC is to reduce maternal and infant mortality and morbidity. The competence of nurses can make a significant impact on these statistics – they need to be skilled at recognizing normal labor, monitoring for potential risks, choosing appropriate interventions, and responding appropriately to both normal and challenging scenarios.
PEC offers training which is patient-centered, clinically-focused, and result-oriented.
After a rigorous evaluation, PEC incorporated simulation-based learning modules from SIMTICS (a SimuLearn subsidiary) into PEC’s Limited Women’s and OB Ultrasound education. This training comprises a blend of educational resources, including home study units, webinars, live seminars and online training using the SIMTICS simulation-based learning modules.
Cindy regards simulation-based learning as an ‘essential component’ of their Ultimate Ultrasound Training Menu. The simulation eLearning modules make training easier to accomplish and more effective:
“When students have used the SIMTICS simulations first, we move through concepts and the hand skills in the face-to-face sessions with much greater speed. This reduces the cost to the institution.”
The adaptability and flexibility that simulation eLearning offers are also a most attractive convenience for her company and their clients:
“This is most important to the small hospital or midwifery group. They cannot manage for their staff to take time away for a conference, but they still need to refine the skills of limited OB ultrasound into practice.”
A sample of a SIMTICS simulation-based learning module.
As an experienced dental assistant and educator, Cassie Belfancha describes another benefit of simulation-based learning:
Each simulation eLearning module focuses on one skill or procedure. The lessons contain a text explanation, a video of a clinician performing the procedure, a 3D anatomy model and finally a quiz. The defining aspect is that students can learn and practice their skills interactively and test their competence too.
Cassie finds that "The simulation eLearning modules will teach, remind, refresh, and keep things current in a student’s head throughout the entire program. They not only learn more effectively, but what they learn in the beginning is not forgotten because they can go back and practice each skill later, long after it was covered in class.”
Simulation-based learning helps increase knowledge retention
The multi-modal format enhances learning as it provides the procedural information in different formats which stimulate and engage different regions of the brain. Simulation eLearning helps integrate the learning into the brain and embeds the knowledge long-term.
“Interacting, doing; this is how my students learn best. SIMTICS is amazingly wonderful for this, it helps to lock in their knowledge. Anybody can look at a book, but when they actually do it in a simulation, they remember it… After studying with SIMTICS, it’s like the whole procedure is automatically embedded in their brains.”
Research confirms that students retain learning better through the feedback cycle of an experiential, learning-by-doing model.
Rayan Matthews, Director of the Clinical Medical Assistant (CMA) program at West Virginia Junior College (WVJC) uses simulation training in their online program.
She reports that she has been able to increase the number of simulation eLearning tasks for the students each week without any negative reactions from them. In fact she observes more positive learner engagement:
“There has not been one complaint, because it’s fun and it’s interactive. They’re not just reading. It’s like real life for them. They love it and they don’t complain about the workload.”
One student even shared her pride and delight at being able to show her mother the skills she had been learning online.
Although some tasks, like drawing blood or injecting a needle might be a little different in real life to doing an online simulation, student still find the online training useful. As Rayan explains, “Times have changed: The generation of students we’re working with now are computer gurus compared to some of us. They like using computers and they expect technology to be part of their learning.”
“I never believed that a simulation could be so realistic,” she said.
Rayan wanted a product that would accurately recreate the real-life scenarios students might encounter when working with real people in a clinical situation. She needed simulation eLearning that would enable students to repeatedly practice and develop both decision-making and procedural skills safely, without any risk of harm to actual patients - in addition to all the other benefits of simulation-based training.
In a challenging market, with both educators and students demanding more from their training, simulation eLearning offers not only a competitive edge but valuable benefits that better equip learners to perform competently and job. As more and more healthcare educators are confirming, it’s an ‘essential component’ of any training that aims to meet the demands of healthcare in the 21st century.