Monthly Archives: March 2014

Customer Service in Simulation – Exactly Who are the Customers?

shutterstock_138601847_aWhile of course we want to be nice to everyone who interfaces with the health care education community in reality we must allocate priorities to how we direct our resources. Many times when I am speaking in front of large group of simulation colleagues I ask the question “who is the ultimate customer of simulation program?” Often times, the audience will quickly convey to me that it is the students of the simulation program.

I share a slightly different view. While I believe that it is the patient’s AND students who are the ultimate beneficiaries of the simulation services it is actually the faculty members and those who create simulation programs that are the true “main” customers of simulation center. I come at this from a perspective of being the director of a multidisciplinary, academic simulation program that functions in a unique collaborative model in which the staff of the simulation center partner with faculty member content experts to create successful simulation based education programs that are taught by clinical faculty educators. Those educators come from various domains such as the school of medicine, the school of nursing, and various educational units of hospital systems and so on.

I remind the staff on the regular basis that the true customer is faculty who come to our facility to create learning programs, and then subsequently teach them. I believe they are the customers that our system should be designed to offer the most support to assist them in achieving their goals. At our center we continuously strive to develop tools, pathways and process, as well as new innovative ideas on collaborative opportunities to lower the barrier of participation and increase the success of the people that are here trying to create and conduct programs of education for health care providers. In the model that I have described our content experts come from a variety of backgrounds and professional domains, and most of them are not full-time simulation based educators. In fact that would be rare in our system.

Whether it is standardizing the curriculum development process, or just finding ways to assist them in the administrative needs, or perhaps assisting with the technical aspects of simulation, we stand ready to support that faculty member. Similarly, we believe that supporting the faculty members during the actual conduct of the simulation course is critically important. Being able to troubleshoot glitches, handle the “super technical” aspects that may be outside the wheelhouse of expertise of the faculty member, give the faculty member confidence in their ability to achieve her goals through simulation based education. In addition to trying to remove the workload, part of our customer service strategy is to minimize the stress of the faculty members.  

It is my belief that this extra attention of customer service effort dedicated to our faculty members5StarService and course directors directly contributes to the success of the programs that are conducted at our center. Further, it also increases the ability of faculty members to participate in continued to go the extra mile to engage students with innovative learning that includes simulation.

The net result is a proliferation of very successful programs that give great education to the participant, which is ultimately benefiting the patient’s that we here to provide care. So while the students, or participants are certainly important, the main customer is the faculty who are creating and teaching the programs.  

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My First Simulator – Good Enough?

YMCA_SimulatorMy First Simulator – Good Enough?

In 1972 I was eight years old, in the third grade, and vividly remember my first encounter with what I would call my first medical simulator at the YMCA during swimming practice. Today most would call this a partial task trainer; however I argue that that is part of simulation in the way the start of today.

I built a replica of this simulator a few years back to present at a lecture and it appears in the picture in this post. The original was built by some clever swimming instructors who were teaching fourth graders how to do mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to save a life associated with drowning, and near drowning incidents.

It is simply a Clorox bottle with a hole cut in it, feeding into a plastic bag that would force the back of a clipboard up and down in response to ventilation’s being provided via the mouth of the Clorox bottle. See it in action here.

Crude? Perhaps. Effective? Undoubtedly! At least in my case.  High fidelity? Yep. When I breath air into the Clorox bottle, the “chest” goes up and down just like when I do ventilations on a real patient.

I keep this simulator prominently displayed in my office to serve as a continuous reminder that we are about achieving outcomes through innovative education as opposed to that of evangelism for sake of technology. While all of it has its place, I love high tech stuff as much as anybody else, there are times when simplistic models combined with enthusiastic instructors and aptly defined curriculum and learning outcomes will prevail. Prevail is a sense of sustainability and achieving long term outcomes.

This is part of the educational strategies I use join faculty development programs. The important thing is to focus on learning outcomes first, then adapt to the reality of available equipment, budget, finance and lastly scalability.

If low-tech simple solutions are the answer, then perhaps, yes they are good enough.

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