Simulation-based education in health care is a subspecialty of growing importance and relevance in today’s world. And while that very phrase “health care simulation” may not sound immediately familiar or jump off the page as a medical career, the average person is increasingly being directly impacted by it.

So, what is it? Simulation-based education is the use of experiential learning techniques that immerse students in real life scenarios. It may include dramatized drills that create mass casualty scenarios, virtual reality and 3-D printing-enhanced environments or the use of medical manikins (which are increasingly sophisticated and realistically simulate live births and surgeries).

Simulation for safety

Simulation is a fantastic modality for education. For medical students, simulation is taking on a critical role, eclipsing the standard desk lecture to the point where students must pass simulation drills as part of certain courses.

“At its core, simulation enhances patient safety and leads to a higher standard of care.”

But in a broader sense, people from all walks of life are taking part in simulation-based education: teachers and students, who practice lock down drills and active shooter scenarios, office workers who learn emergency exit drills, and even non-medical hospital personnel who use simulations to ensure that hospital systems are functioning at their highest possible levels.

At its core, simulation enhances patient safety and leads to a higher standard of care.

The fact that people are receiving simulation-based education means that more people are providing it — these are often nurses, respiratory therapists and first responders who teach peers and others through a simulated environment.

Simulation for better careers

Responding to this growth, the Society for Simulation in Healthcare (SSH) offers professional certifications — the CHSE (Certified Healthcare Simulation Educator), CHSE-A (Certified Healthcare Simulation Educator–Advanced) and the CHSOS (Certified Healthcare Simulation Operations Specialist).

These certifications, along with continued education programming through SSH and other organizations are recognizing that simulation is a field that demands standards of professionalism and competence.

And while many health care professionals may meander their way through various disciplines into becoming experts at simulation, many are dedicating their entire careers to teaching through simulated environments. New technologies, and modern techniques to simulate situations, along with ever-present real world risks, are converging to make healthcare simulation an exciting field of medicine.