The International Nursing Association of Clinical Simulation and Learning (INACSL) and the Society for Simulation in Healthcare (SSH) released a joint statement on their position on their support for virtual simulation.1 KT Waxman, the SSH Immediate Past-President also posted a Presidential message on the importance of simulation.2 With the questions of the future of the pandemic, online learning and virtual simulation is the key to education when face to face learning is not an option.
When the pandemic first hit, it disrupted the healthcare industry in many ways. It caused set back for nurses and surgical technologists to achieve their clinical hour requirement. Clinicals were cancelled due to the lack of PPE and the concern for students and faculty's safety. Many nurses about to graduate were displaced from clinicals and still needed the hours to graduate.3 Schools scrambled to look for alternatives that allowed them to still let their learners gain experience and clinical hours without the face to face learning.
When we heard about the challenges Surgical Technology programs were facing, we scrambled to assist the Surgical Technology Programs. PeriopSim's focus expanded to schools, rather than just hospitals. The team reached out to Program Directors and Educators in order to understand their needs and support the program. We understand the value in simulation, especially during these times after talking with hundreds of Educators.
Since clinicals have either been delayed or cancelled, many of these schools have turned to simulation. Surgical Technology programs all across the US have signed up to use PeriopSim to help their learners achieve competencies and hours while being online. Online learning and teaching surgeries and competencies has its own challenges, some of them being the lack of real life experience that learners are experiencing. Through PeriopSim, learners have been able to practice competencies and procedures to prepare for when clinicals reopen. Below is a photo of the learners' grades at Northwestern Michigan after a month of using PeriopSim.
From the INACSL/SSH position statement, they wrote "Based on the current and anticipated shortage of healthcare workers, we propose that regulatory bodies and policymakers demonstrate flexibility by allowing the replacement of clinical hours usually completed in a healthcare setting with that of virtually simulated experiences during the pandemic." We had Educators who were proposing going to their respective accreditation board so that PeriopSim can be used to get hours when going into clinicals were unavailable. According to research, virtual simulation has proven to be an effective teaching method for learners.4,5 Due to the pandemic, simulation has been fast tracked as everyone needed an alternative to the "normal".
Our first ever virtual conference was at INACSL 2020 back in July which was a new experience for us. We have plans to continue to participate in conferences, either online or in person, with IMSH 2021 and the OR Manager Conference confirmed. Now is the time to come up with new and innovative solutions to the challenges of the pandemic. Both INCASL and SSH have attested that virtual simulation is of great value and will have positive impacts on the learning environment.
1. Society for Simulation in Healthcare. (2020, March 31). COVID-19: SSH/INACSL Position Statement on Use of Virtual Simulation during the Pandemic. Retrieved from https://www.ssih.org/COVID-19-Updates/ID/2237/COVID-19-SSHINACSL-Position-Statement-on-Use-of-Virtual-Simulation-during-the-Pandemic
2,3. Society for Simulation in Healthcare. (2020, August 13). August Presidential message - Simulationists need to advocate more than ever. Retrieved from https://www.ssih.org/Home/ctl/ArticleView/mid/54750/articleId/2258/August-Presidential-message--Simulationists-need-to-advocate-more-than-ever
4. Kononowicz, A. A., Woodham, L. A., Edelbring, S., Stathakarou, N., Davies, D., Saxena, N., Tudor Car, L., Carlstedt-Duke, J., Car, J., & Zary, N. (2019). Virtual Patient Simulations in Health Professions Education: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis by the Digital Health Education Collaboration. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 21(7), e14676. https://doi.org/10.2196/14676
5. Foronda, C.L., Fernandez-Burgos, M., Nadeau, C., Kelley, C.N., & Henry, M.N. (2020, February). Virtual Simulation in Nursing Education: A Systematic Review Spanning 1996-2018. Simulation in Healthcare, 15(1), 46-54. doi: 10.1097/SIH.0000000000000411