Feb. 3, 2022 — The University of Florida’s comprehensive medical simulation training program was recently awarded full accreditation by the Society of Simulation in Healthcare, or SSH, an achievement earned by fewer than 30 organizations globally that demonstrates a level of excellence in meeting international standards for curricula.
UF’s Center for Experiential Learning and Simulation provides College of Medicine students and UF Health professionals technical training and immersive simulation that focuses on clinical excellence, critical decision making, communication and team performance in a safe environment.
“SSH accreditation is both an indicator of excellence and a mechanism for advocacy,” said Tom LeMaster, M.S.N., M.Ed., R.N., the center’s director of education and training programs. “Accreditation standards provide benchmarks for the center’s performance and help ensure that learners have access to high quality simulation training resources and expertise.”
Operating from within the George T. Harrell, M.D., Medical Education Building, the center is one of the most recent developments in simulation on a campus that is the birthplace of the Human Patient Simulator, the original human simulator. As one of the first medical schools in the country to use standardized patients to help students master their communication and interactive skills, the UF College of Medicine’s history with experiential learning approaches is a rich one.
The Center for Experiential Learning and Simulation is led by Mary Patterson, M.D., M.Ed., a pediatric emergency medicine physician and the associate dean of experiential learning and the Lou Oberndorf Professor of Healthcare Technology at the UF College of Medicine, along with Lemaster, Assistant Director of Operations Chad Roth, Associate Program Director Maritza Plaza-Verduin, M.D., FAAP, and Maria Velazquez, director of the Anaclerio Learning and Assessment Center.
LeMaster said the expertise of educators who train participants, provide trainee feedback and update training materials and scenarios played a significant role in the center’s accreditation.
He said simulation is an important tool medical educators and health care systems can use for a variety of reasons.
“It gives students the opportunity to experience critical events and various scenarios in a safe environment,” LeMaster said. “We’ve also used simulation training in many areas of UF Health Shands Hospital, where providers practice teamwork and communication, look at latent safety threats and test systems. All those things are critically important.”
SSH, a nonprofit organization founded to advance the application of medical simulation in health care, assesses programs in four areas: teaching, assessment, research and systems integration. Programs must have been operating for at least two years to be eligible for accreditation.
The Center for Experiential Learning and Simulation best practices, as identified by SSH, include:
- Incorporating junior faculty into the research mentoring process and cultivating the next generation of simulation researchers
- Highly integrating the College of Medicine health system and program, allowing for the development of a shared model of how the program can be effective
- Integrating the program into the hospital system’s root cause analysis process
- Producing one of the most comprehensive program policy and procedure manuals reviewed by SSH
- Adding blue dye to medications used in simulation, so they are not mistaken for real medications
- Filing After Action Review reports that share valuable information through meetings, signs and medical records documentation