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Blackhawk Employee Earns Global Certification

September 11, 2020

Kristy Crocker, Health Simulation Lab Coordinator at Blackhawk Technical College, recently earned the Certified Healthcare Simulation Educator (CHSE) designation. According to the Society for Simulation in Healthcare, there are only 2000 certified professionals globally. This formal professional recognition is a testament to the knowledge, skills, and accomplishments in simulation education that Kristy offers at Blackhawk.

Kristy Crocker holds a baby from the SIM nursery

As more Health Sciences and Public Safety training programs rely on clinical simulation experiences, having someone with this designation is beneficial for students and faculty. Previously, simulated scenario training required oversight by a mastery level instructor. With this designation, Kristy is now able to facilitate and debrief on a multitude of scenarios to enhance the training and education of Blackhawk students and community organizations.

(Pictured: Kristy Crocker stands in the BTC SIM Nursery with baby Torie, a state-of-the-art SIM baby)

After several years of learning, studying, and testing, Kristy is now certified to not only run simulations, but to assess the needs of the community, research what has or has not been successful, and develop strategies to provide solutions. Along with mechanical simulators, she can now implement simulated patient/person scenarios. This process involves recruiting and training community members to portray symptoms and issues to which students can respond. This is especially vital in the care of mental health patients. Having simulated person scenarios will allow students to watch a patient’s facial features and hear their responses to questions posed in live situations.

While many healthcare students interact regularly with the Sim lab, the potential for the lab to be used by community organizations is expansive. “My certification reinforces that we stand behind our vision to provide innovative education to the community,” Kristy said.

The lab can be utilized to help community members with physical, cognitive, or intellectual disabilities practice body language etiquette, social norms, and other challenging interactions. Working with simulations allows people to practice these skills in a low-stakes environment and then take those skills into their workplaces or families. Other employers in the area could work with Kristy and her staff to develop full training programs in skills like empathy, communication, or connecting with customers who are limited in their speech, hearing, or need other accommodations.

Kristy has provided mobile experiences for those who might struggle to make the trip to Blackhawk to complete the necessary training. With limited resources, this has been scaled back. A mobile lab would benefit local first responders and shift workers who need to recertify their skills but cannot leave their posts to do so. She also envisions bringing such a lab to schools to let students experience what a career in a health sciences field looks like. Currently, the lab hosts 300 local third graders every year and could introduce even more young students who might want to pursue health sciences by going to them.

While education as a whole was affected by the national COVID outbreak, health science students were faced with not finishing a program or not graduating without completing assigned simulations and clinical hours. Many clinical sites had either closed or closed to outside personnel. That left Kristy with the challenge of certifying 420 simulations in one month – the number she usually accomplishes in an entire semester.

“I was waiting outside the college when the doors opened for the day,” Kristy said. “DoorDash dropped off my meals and I worked many late nights early in the pandemic.”

According to Moira Lafayette, Dean of Health Sciences and Public Safety, “Kristy's dedication to the success of students and faculty through her leadership of the Simulation Center is an asset to BTC. As she invests in her continued professional development in simulation education to support a leading-edge simulation learning environment at BTC, she continues to provide faculty development and training to support the flexible delivery of simulation content into online and hybrid learning experiences. Without her dedication and commitment, we would not have had the student success in the HSPS courses this past semester in response to COVID-19.”

Other local simulation centers reached out to Kristy indicating that they had closed their doors and weren’t able to accommodate students with the unprecedented CDC and government mandates for distancing. She was proud of her ability to meet mandates and still provide learning for BTC students. Also, with distance learning being the new form of instruction, she can open up new techniques and opportunities for students to participate by ‘remoting in’ on a simulation from home.

Along with continued work on the expanding programs in the Simulation Center, Kristy is hoping to pursue center accreditation. There are only five accredited centers in the state of Wisconsin. Accreditation would place BTC in a very competitive sector among not only Wisconsin technical colleges, but four-year universities, large hospital campuses, and standalone training facilities.

“Being accredited,” Kristy said, “demonstrates that we are functioning at the highest level of simulation practice and sets us apart from those facilities who aren’t. It will provide a further rationalization for the request in space, staff, and new programs that would benefit from simulation-based education.” Accreditation is a long-term goal that the Sim team plans to pursue while continuing to provide BTC students and the surrounding community with high-quality health education experiences.

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