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Meet Fellow Nicole Armitage, PhD, RN

By: Lygia Lee Arcaro, PhD, RN
SimLEARN National Director, Nursing Programs, VHA SimLEARN, Orlando, Florida

SimLEARN is the Coordinating Center for the Interprofessional Fellowship Program in Clinical Simulation, a 1-year Fellowship supported by the VHA Office of Academic Affiliations. The Dayton VA Medical Center is one of the six sites participating in the program. In this issue meet Fellow Nicole Armitage.

How would you introduce yourself to others?
I am currently a Fellow in the Interprofessional Fellowship Program in Clinical Simulation located at the Dayton VA. I am completing 1 year of study, in the simulation center, to learn all I can about clinical simulation. I have recently retired from the US Air Force (September 2020) where I was working as a Nurse Scientist and a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner.

What prompted you to choose Nursing as your profession?
As I was going to college people told me to go into computer science – that’s because I enjoy language and math. However, computers are not the same then as now and they were large and slow in speed. After a semester I decided computers couldn’t think like people and that’s when I decided to go into community health education. An acquaintance told me they studied community health through nursing. So, I switched my major to nursing. At that time, my family wondered if I might be interested in medicine as a career instead. However, at the time I was most interested in caring for people and helping them prevent disease rather than treating various diseases. What I wanted to do sounded more like nursing, so that’s what I did. I was more interested in the caring side and working with people and that is what brought me into nursing. I have found it to be a wonderful profession and I would highly recommend Nursing to all who are interested.

Describe one characteristic of a favorite job you held
Different parts of each job I had; I have enjoyed them all. But one job that sticks out in my mind is Inpatient OB (obstetrics). When you work in Labor & Delivery and are helping women who are giving birth, it is such a significant moment in a person’s life, and it is very rewarding to help people in this very moment. My favorite aspect of the job was the miracle of a baby being born and that was never not exciting!

How does the Fellowship in Clinical Simulation meet a career goal?
At the time, working as a US Air Force Nurse Practitioner, I wanted to teach and do research and applied to school for a PhD program of study. Then the US Air Force assigned me to the Research Department which I very much enjoyed. During my years with the US Air Force, I never had the chance to be an educator or work directly in simulation. However, during my last assignment at Wright-Patterson I did have an opportunity to see some research and development related to simulation and this really piqued my interest.

While getting ready to retire, I continued to want to engage in research and felt I had a gap in my education related to simulation. The Fellowship was a great opportunity for me to learn more, gain more experience with simulation, writing curriculum, and learning about the adult learning experience. My career goal was to experience being a better educator and teach other clinicians through use of simulation among other modalities in education. My project for the Fellowship was chosen to develop root cause analysis education for the RN Transition to Practice (RNTTP) curriculum, working with the Field Advisory Committee trying to incorporate simulation into the curriculum. Particularly, the focus is on helping new nurses understand how the process works when a near miss event happens and this generates a Root Cause Analysis (RCA). Interested in how the RCA is done, how to participate in the panel whose members continue to question to find the root causes for a certain event. In addition, to learn how the VHA supports Highly Reliability Organizations (HRO) and just culture and the culture of safety. I am interested in how those principles are applied during an investigation of a near miss event and this will be included in the formal RNTTP education with simulation as an education modality.

After you complete the Fellowship, what might be next for you?
Currently, I am looking for opportunities to work in education, simulation, and research. I plan to apply through the VA – I enjoy working at Dayton VA Medical Center and being a Veteran, myself, want to help train clinicians to provide the best care for the Veterans. I am also contemplating applying at nearby universities. Right now, I am exploring options to see what might become available that is the right fit.