Ha! I reeled you in with that title didn’t I? Well, there is some truth to the matter. What I am describing is the sometimes dual role that we play when we are convincing people of the power of simulation. It is important that we continue this practice, but not to become confused and blur the lines of what is important and the prioritization of the same.
“What?”, you may ask, “Are you talking about?” I am talking about the fact that when we show simulations involving exciting, urgent life-threatening situations that it is undeniably sexy to watch. Nothing is sexier, in my opinion, then to see a team go in and care for a patient with arterial bleeding, or critical shortness of breath, and literally rip them from the jaws of death and have the team emerge and give feedback that the simulation training contributed to their success. This type of theatrical simulation is very common in presentations and tours of simulation efforts and programs. The adrenaline, the ease of which you can convince observers of the power of simulation through the observation of such exciting episodes of care makes it a very important tool to utilize. It is particularly important when you are trying to gain the trust, confidence and support of those who are in the capacity of funding, and/or supporting your efforts in simulation.
The part that we must keep in the back of our minds as leaders in simulation while we are putting such dramatic demonstrations of care provision on display, is that the real power of simulation is in our ability to achieve targeted learning and assessment objectives that are designed to improve the delivery of healthcare. Just how simulation gets integrated into a curriculum of training of new healthcare providers or those programs that are directed at patient safety and team training associated with healthcare systems depend upon a critical analysis, and implementation of effort in a carefully planned out way. Even the design of a scenario with the most fantastic of drama, requires toiling in the details of learning objectives, assessment objectives, curriculum integration planning as well as the technical components that make it come to life.
So while I am not suggesting that we should be trying to wow a congressperson, or potential philanthropic donor, CEO, or University Dean with a demonstration of the development of learning objectives and curricular implementation planning, we must always remain cognizant of the true mission of simulation and the things that really need to occur for it to be implemented in the most efficient, and most effective ways to achieve the desired outcomes.