SimLEARN fiscal year in review; A look back - VHA SimLEARN
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SimLEARN fiscal year in review; A look back

By Gerald Sonnenberg
EES Marketing and Communication

ORLANDO, Fla. – The VHA SimLEARN National Simulation Center (NSC) officially opened its new facility next to the Orlando VA Medical Center (VAMC) in September 2016 with the overall purpose of improving the care of our Veterans by providing top notch training to VA providers and clinicians. By the end of fiscal year 2017, staff at the 51,000-square-foot, high-technology advance training center provided training and simulation orientation to more than 3,400 learners and visitors. Staff also conducted more than 60 immersive, simulation-based training courses.

SimLEARN’s influence reached beyond its walls to VAMCs around the country resulting in an increase of 17 VHA SimLEARN Certified Simulation Centers; including 2 advanced, 7 intermediate, and 8 basic simulation centers. Staff at these facilities are able to provide simulation training to their local staff once they have obtained the necessary training from the NSC. In addition, Resuscitation Education Initiative (REdI) staff in Orlando implemented Resuscitation Quality Improvement training at 41 VAMCs to support maintenance of competence of advanced cardiovascular life support (ACLS) and basic life support (BLS) skills. REdI staff also provided HeartCode BLS and voice assisted mannequin (VAM) training to 107,972 providers and staff throughout the nation, as well as ACLS and VAM training to another 21,418 VHA providers.

The SimLEARN hospital activations team supported testing and activation of more than 10 outpatient clinic areas and 10 inpatient services, as well as community living centers around the nation. This team works with local VAMC staff and rehearses patient flow, as well as tests hospital systems for unanticipated events or situations. To this end, SimLEARN applies simulation technology to tackle one of the greatest challenges facing medical practitioners and hospital risk managers, which is to identify previously unknown clinical issues as VA "stands up" hospitals.   

SimLEARN regularly partnered with the Department of Defense to offer training opportunities for uniformed services, and its academic affiliation with the University of Central Florida College of Medicine provided training opportunities to resident physicians of the Orlando VAMC.

SimLEARN and its efforts were also recognized by the Society for Simulation in Healthcare (SSIH) for its Healthcare Simulation Week by live streaming a tour of the NSC. So far the video has received more than 1,900 views on the SSIH Facebook page.

Finally, interest in the simulation technology and facility design at the NSC is high nationwide, as well as internationally, so the facility provided tours to the Puerto Rican Secretary of Health, Danish Ministry of Health, British consulate-general, acting deputy secretary for VA, members of the Healthcare Information and Management System Society (HIMSS), national healthcare journalists, as well as leaders from the Orlando area.

Dr. Haru Okuda, SimLEARN national medical director, summed up the year this way, “The success of this past year’s activities is due to the hard work and dedication of all of the VHA National Clinical Faculty, SimLEARN staff, and learners who participated in the training in order to provide the best care possible to our deserving Veterans. This year, SimLEARN is focusing on programs to support the Secretary’s priorities including suicide prevention, electronic health record modernization and our VHA foundational services.”

Courses at the facility for fiscal year 2018 are quickly filling up. For more information or to register for a course, click here.