It is important to remember that the primary constituents that are the primary beneficiaries of efforts involved in healthcare simulation are the patients that we serve. While simulation has existed for centuries, over the last several decades the case has been made that simulation efforts contribute significantly to the quality and safety associated with the delivery of healthcare.
Undoubtedly the pandemic has turned the world on its end. This includes the delivery of healthcare at the front lines as well as the education and assessment programs involving simulation that contribute to quality and safety. While the pandemic has had far reaching impact on all of us, one thing that has not changed is the need for patients to have access to the highest quality healthcare in the safest possible fashion. Simulation efforts around the world contribute mightily to this need.
Healthcare simulation efforts are far reaching. Goals range from the education of future and current health care providers, assessing competency, to uncovering latent threats that exist that could possibly harm our patients. Our patients cannot afford significant delays or the halting of such programs and to do so would be a dereliction of our moral and ethical imperatives to keep patients safe.
At the beginning of the pandemic and continuing at present there seems to be a mad scramble to transfer learning to online activities, and/or suspend hands on simulation training. As simulation leaders and professionals, we need to ensure that our efforts are dedicated to planning the future, both far and near. For the near, foreseeable future that includes coexisting with the Covid virus. We must proceed forward with the conducting of our simulation-based programs in a way that is aligned with best practices of safety and prevention that is associated with the spread of the virus.
Reengineering our existing programs to accommodate for masks, appropriate PPE, social distancing where possible, aggressive cleaning policies and other such items are important part of the leadership process. As an example, going the extra mile and perhaps splitting one class into two to cut down the number of occupants in a given space maybe part of a reasonable curricular engineering solution. Reevaluating the effectiveness and efficiency of the hands-on part of the simulation and deciding if elements of the education could be adequately be covered online may be another part of the equation.
The far future and impact of the Covid related disruption(s) may bring us new technologies and enhanced ways to conduct simulations remotely. One could dream. Perhaps on-line coupled with enhanced virtual and/or augmented reality whilst practicing and learning with our colleagues! What is unreasonable is to think that all of the simulation specific training that we do can be hastily flopped online and converted to a zoom session! While it may have been an important urgent stop-gap transition task in February, do not mistake it as the long-term solution without careful evaluation and assessment.
Ensuring we are conducting our programs in the safest way possible with regard to the participants, the teaching faculty, as well as all of the staff and all humans associated with the simulation program required to support the effort is of paramount importance. This requires careful attention and significant leadership oversight whether we are teaching practicing professionals or students of health care programs. Our patients, the primary reason that we do simulation and those who have the most to lose if we don’t, are counting on us for the quality and safety associated with the healthcare they are receiving.
Simulation is not an optional, nice to have program. It is as essential as adequate staffing, ventilators, and fire alarm systems. It contributes significantly to the process that allows us to provide safe and high-quality care a most vulnerable population of people that we call patients.