To further expand and make my thinking visible (Eisner, 1998) through academic reflection on the learning technology our team (Team 5) took part in was more challenging than expected. I felt as though we had assessed every angle of the virtual healthcare simulation provided by Centennial College, Ryerson University, and George Brown College and there was nothing left to review. By stepping away from the project and revisiting the team feedback with a more objective lens, allowed me to drop my bias and emotions attached to the simulation.
When our team made the decision to trial a health simulator, I was genuinely excited as my background is in nursing and I have been part of some simulations at the hospital. I expected the simulation to be immersive and interactive, guiding me to new approaches and scenarios. The impact of simulations can help develop confidence and understanding of the specific topic. “Simulations allow healthcare providers to hone their skills without endangering the patient or hurting their self confidence” (Riley, 2008, Ch 33). Simulation can facilitate multiple users at once, which can reduce the physical man power of the organization and “teachers” utilized for training. Because we used a free healthcare simulator which is available for public access, anyone who could be going to a hospital, or experiencing this type of procedure/diagnosis can log in and learn more about the expectations.
Would this help alleviate training costs? Are there other simulations that are more immersive? Are they available to all learners? The public? It would be nice to see statistics on the educational impact that healthcare simulations have on staff, the public and management. Unfortunately “the current system of education, training, and maintenance of proficiency has itself never been tested rigorously to determine whether it achieves its stated goals; the high level reviews of the performance of the healthcare industry” (Gaba, 2004). Offering more scenarios and exploring more critical thinking situations would be beneficial. “Simulation techniques can be applied across nearly all health care domains” (Gaba, 2004), so it would be great to explore all angles of the simulation, not just those designed for healthcare professionals. My biggest concern was the lack of stimulation. There was so much reading, which is understandable given the topic, but more interaction could keep learners engaged and eager to keep going. The lack of options in regards to being steered towards a favorable outcome was concerning. Real life isn’t as black and white as the simulation outlined and although none of us like conflict, it is a necessary evil when it comes to learning and responding. Pushing towards a cognitive simulation where the application is designed with artificial intelligence, in order to think and feel, could help enhance the learning experience and give accurate reactions. “Cognitive simulations provide a realistic replication of a healthcare professionals workday that involves several complex demands that have to be processed simultaneously” (Riley, 2008).
Using the simulation we participated in allowed learners to view different modalities within the healthcare world and see baseline values, assessments, therapeutic approaches, techniques and use of machinery. This is a great introduction to showcase different options to a new nurse or someone who would be interested in switching units. It is very basic and easy to navigate, so for those who are new to the world of simulations, confidence and understanding of new technology can be gained. There are a plethora of simulations available for free through the internet with a google search, but compared to my time with Alberta Health Services, they are not as advanced or as structured as the simulations used in the hospital. The strengths for these platforms are providing an easy to use platform where a wealth of knowledge can be learned, as well as additional links for further research if needed. I do believe that there are superior simulations out there and the world of healthcare simulation will continue to change and advance. “The fate of simulation as a means to a revolutionary change in health care is approaching a tipping point that will resolve itself strongly in the direction of one of these alternate histories over the next 10 years, although it will then take another decade to evolve fully” (Gaba, 2004).