Simulation techniques that target medical errors and seek to provide continued improvement in the quality and safety of patient care are rapidly becoming the new “go to” methods for professional healthcare education. Ranging from simulated human patients to detailed animations and disaster scenarios, these fool-proof techniques are increasingly used by hospitals, universities, and training schools to bridge between classroom learning and real-life clinical experience.
With this major growth in the simulation world and its wide variety of tech-savvy practitioners, the healthcare environment is now asking, “Are the best practices of the science being used? Are the practitioners using standardized, evidence-based approaches?” and, most importantly, “Will these practices lead to improved medical safety, effectiveness, and efficiency?”
According to Andrew Spain, MA, NCEE, EMT-P, Director of Accreditation and Certification for the Society for Simulation in Healthcare (SSH), “There has been so much variability in how simulation was being developed and delivered that the profession itself has asked for clarity and guidance. Certification does this—it provides a framework and an expected set of standards to be met while still allowing flexibility for creativity and innovation. The end result is improved simulation developed and delivered by the educators and operation specialists we certify.”
SSH, the professional organization that facilitates excellence in multi-specialty healthcare education, practice, and research through simulation modalities, has developed those certifications to support healthcare simulation and the individuals who perform those simulations every day. Current offerings include programs that lead to certification of healthcare simulation educators (CHSE) and healthcare simulation operations specialists (CHSOS). Educators also have an additional certification option (CHSE-A) for those who have progressed to a more advanced role in their practice of healthcare simulation.
As evidence of the demand and critical need for quality simulation education, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently added the CHSE certification to their list of continuing education resources for VA healthcare employees. “That’s huge—in a time when dollars are very tight, and every cent is being accounted for it seems,” noted Spain. He added that the VA listing indicates the certification is “…valuable enough that they will allow the VA funding—meaning taxpayer dollars—to be used to achieve this recognition; to pay for their staff to obtain the CHSE certification means they are saying, ‘This is that important.’”
Spain and SSH also find that the VA resource listing represents an independent body giving a stamp of approval that not only recognizes the quality of the certification, but also the importance of simulation. “This is validation of the hard work of individuals with a wide variety of backgrounds in the healthcare simulation community and of the simulation societies throughout the world who provided the input to create these certifications,” observed SSH President Pamela Jeffries, PhD, RN. Jeffries affirms that the expanding role of healthcare simulation education is integral and even critical to ensuring quality healthcare—and to saving patient’s lives. She adds, “Above all, it is critical to quality healthcare and important to the well being of us all.”
Established in 2004 by professionals using simulation for education, testing, and research in healthcare, SSH membership is comprised of all medical disciplines, researchers, educators and developers from around the globe. SSH fosters the improvement and application of simulation-based modalities such as human patient simulators, virtual reality, standardized patients and task trainers. For more information, go to www.ssih.org.