Simulation Innovation at BTC

Making the Impossible Possible

February 9, 2021

Kristy Crocker made BTC news in September for achieving her Certified Healthcare Simulation Educator (CHSE) designation. At that time, she shared that her new designation certified her to run simulations that train our healthcare students and assess the needs of the community, research what has or has not been successful, and develop strategies to provide solutions. For the past nine months, Kristy has been working with Mallory Bohling, BTC nursing instructor, and the dedicated Blackhawk IT team to design and deliver healthcare simulations in a safer and more accessible manner during the COVID era. 

Standardly, healthcare simulations occur with numerous students in the room watching while one or two students care for the high-tech mechanical patient. During this process, an instructor watches through a one-way mirror and controls the devices. Working in this manner, it takes one to four hours for three-four students to complete a simulation, a method that is not incredibly efficient. “Currently, I am running these groups 8-12 times at 3-4 hours each,” Kristy explained. 

Working to mitigate COVID contact concerns and shorten the time frame for simulations, Kristy looked for a way to allow observing students the ability to participate remotely. “Using Distant Clinical Simulation, one student could participate in an individual simulation in 30-45 minutes,” she explained. “This could allow four simulations in 2-3 hours.” In addition, instead of cramming twelve additional students into the room, the entire class could log on via Zoom and participate in the simulation live.

Simulation software and hardware are intentionally complicated to protect the integrity and security of the simulations performed. Being able to connect with a Zoom meeting was challenging enough; not only did Kristy manage to do this, but she also found a way to operate the Sim Lab and the simulators from off-campus.

“This process allows faculty, students, and me to run an interactive meeting, the clinical simulation, the simulators, and both pre/debrief conferences without coming into contact with anyone. The student is the only person in the lab, and they will have the opportunity to participate in their own simulation,” said Kristy 

On Wednesday, Jan. 20, Kristy invited several guests to participate in one of these remote simulations. While second-semester nursing students Kyleigh Kreager and Rebecca Vincetich participated in a simulation, instructors and invited guests watched remotely from their various locations. Once the scenario was complete, the students answered questions and interacted with all guests who simply had to unmute and speak with them directly through the simulation. 

Kyleigh shared that this experience was different in that instructors or other peers were not watching directly through the window or in the simulation center. Therefore, it was much more individualized, and it allowed total focus. “I personally liked it,” she said, “because it is sometimes hard to focus your attention on the patient and communicate to only them, as you should. Most of the time, you would speak facing the window to your instructor, speaking for the patient. Being entirely present with your patient in a scenario situation is great practice for communicating with a real patient in a clinical setting.”

One of the invited guests was James Archetto, the Vice President of Gaumard, the company that produces the simulators in use here at BTC. “I’m just amazed at how instantaneous the communication was,” he said after watching the simulation and how easy it was for everyone on the remote call to communicate with the students in the physical simulation space. This work demonstrated the capability of the simulators that the company didn’t know was possible. 

Kristy’s work as a respiratory therapist taught her long ago to think outside the box and look for solutions that aren’t readily available. There isn’t any other college capable of doing what she and her team demonstrated. While she could deservedly be blowing her own horn, when asked, Kristy says she’s “so happy we can deliver this opportunity to our students and community.” 

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