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How do clinician educators learn to ‘do simulation’?

By: Victoria Brazil (@SocraticEM) and Ben Symon (@symon_ben)

Educators learning about simulation-based education (SBE) have many options, and they face difficult choices when deciding how to spend limited professional development time. Courses in simulation design or debriefing are a good choice, but usually come at a cost.  Mentored fellowship programs offer a deep apprenticeship, but program directors are still working toward a consistent curricular approach. Simply reading journal articles or listening to podcasts is helpful, but it may be hard to keep motivated on our own. Without a structured program of self-directed learning, simulation educators can miss important knowledge that may not be achieved by experience alone.

With this dilemma in mind, Ben Symon has led a team of simulation educators to create a series of free self-development modules on healthcare simulation topics. Topics are varied: curriculum development, simulation research, psychological safety, simulated patient methodology, and more. Each module is designed to link learners with papers, podcasts and online tutorials. There are prompt questions to help them reflect on the topic. Learners are encouraged to work through the modules with a peer, so that reflections can be deepened by discussions. More modules are being added, including those on debriefing, translational simulation and equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in simulation. They are visually appealing, and a great resource for simulation educators

The modules also offer a masterclass in matching theory to educational design. Self directed learning (SDL) has been theorised since Malcolm Knowles described a self-directed learner as one who “takes responsibility for their own learning”. Although not without critics, the concept of cultivating habits of SDL and developing lifelong learning skills is pervasive in health professions educational curricula. Cognisant of the challenges of SDL, the team suggests a peer learning strategy to complement the self directed work in these modules. Ben Symon is eloquent in describing this as “time with a trusted friend”. The simplicity of peer learning belies the strong evidence base for it’s effectiveness, especially for learners already immersed in practice.

Perhaps most powerfully, the cultivation of a community of practice (CoP) among those writing the modules leverages their own learning and development. Often the best way to learn something is to try and teach it. When this is paired with collaboration – developing the modules with simulation educators in other institutions and countries – the real value of such a project is realised.

Reader are free to copy, share and adapt the work, as long as they attribute the module authors and their institutions. Ben is keen to be contacted via @symon_ben if you have an idea for a module and/or would like to contribute to one.

Disclosure: Victoria and Ben are co-producers of Simulcast, and the modules are hosted on their website. We have no financial disclosures and receive no financial benefit from these free modules.  

The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. For more details on our site disclaimers, please see our ‘About’ page

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