Year of the nurse; SimLEARN's Trauma Nursing Core Course helps staff be ready - VHA SimLEARN
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Year of the nurse; SimLEARN's Trauma Nursing Core Course helps staff be ready

ORLANDO, Fla. – When emergencies happen, VA’s frontline health care workers step up to meet the challenges, which often means relying on skills and training they may not often use. However, thanks to VA’s Simulation Learning, Education and Research Network (SimLEARN), VA providers can keep their skills sharp and maintain readiness for any situation.

SimLEARN, based in Orlando, Florida is an innovative training program that helps VA providers and frontline staff practice skills in a safe learning environment that simulates real-life situations. Through a variety of face-to-face and virtual courses direct care providers can practice foundational skills they might not get to use very often. This helps ensure that doctors, nurses and other providers can confidently respond to life-threatening situations when they happen.  

“I think Veterans can appreciate the extensive training SimLEARN offers because of their past military experience. You know that saying, ‘train the way you fight’? That is what we are encouraging health care workers to do in our program – train with the staff you work with so that you perform better in the field,” said nurse educator Lygia Arcaro, SimLEARN’s national director of nursing programs.

Arcaro has been with the program since its inception in 2010. She has seen SimLEARN’s programs become a “force multiplier” for provider readiness, training staff who, in turn, return to their facilities and become champions for these skills locally.

SimLEARN’s vision over the last 10 years has been to improve Veteran health care outcomes by establishing VHA as a global leader in health care simulation-based training and research. Each initiative has better equipped nurses and doctors to save lives.

Trauma Nursing Core Course (TNCC), one of SimLEARN’s most successful programs, teaches emergency nurses how to use a standardized process to quickly assess a patient and make safer, faster calls about life-saving intervention. Through this two-day course, VA nurses are better able to identify Veteran injuries more quickly.

Susan Martenson, SimLEARN’s TNCC coordinator, works with the Emergency Nurses Association to train VA nurses as trauma nurse educators. “By the end of September more than 1,000 VA nurses successfully completed this course,” she said. These credentialed trainers then return to their facilities and lead courses locally.

Another important SimLEARN program is the Resuscitation Education Initiative (REdI) program, which evaluates training platforms to support VHA resuscitation training needs. REdI provides oversight and support through standardized basic, advanced, pediatric and non-clinical (layperson) resuscitation training, tracking and monitoring using advanced, responsive mannequins. The mannequins have human-like qualities such as having a pulse, sweat, foam at the mouth, urination, vomit and other things that provide real-time feedback to trainees.

“This type of training means that frontline providers have the necessary skills to respond to a medical emergency, anytime, anywhere. Even people who have been resistant to training have developed the confidence and skillsets to save a life,” said Lisa Baker, the national program director for REdI.

To learn more about SimLEARN, visit