Today I had the opportunity to hear from colleagues about the impact of simulation on client safety from Dr. Sandra Goldsworthy at the SIM Symposium. She and the organizers spoke about the importance of both interprofessional education as well as simulation to enhance student learning.

What is Happening in Calgary?

As Sandra shared her story of how she was drawn to simulation it resonated with me because she spoke of the need to take risks, be innovative and experiment in order to make simulation work. Innovation is a journey. What we know is how important it simulation is to foster communication in healthcare.

If we don’t communicate well people die!

Sandra Goldsworthy

We need to be bold about how good simulation is – and stop dancing around the importance of it – and advocate for exploring how to improve it’s use for effective student learning. In Calgary they are exploring how to better use multi-modal simulation to meet the needs of diverse learners. By sharing our experiences with each other today we can get some neat ideas and break down silos. Collaboration will help us improve faster, which is why days like today are so important.

View from the Simulation Lab in the Village

In Calgary they are making a purposeful investment in virtual simulation because they believe it adds a lot of value to the blended approach of simulation. Students have a lot of positive things to say about their experience – immediate feedback and no-risk learning are among the most appreciated aspects of virtual simulation. Appropriate finding is needed because they have multiple facilitators from interprofessional backgrounds.

I love that this presentation was packed with ideas and invitations for collaborative problem solving – how can we grow together? Make simulation more realistic? There are a lot of really neat options out there. As I watch her talk about the realistic options out there I can’t help but think about recent budget cuts. How do we decide what to spend money on? They look so realistic and have the potential to really improve learning … but is it realistic for us to buy any? Visioning and working towards this possible future is something that may take a long time, but like the Village, it is possible to get there over time.


Why? Early signs of deterioration happen 1-8 hours before a critical event. Early intervention is critical. How do we get them to recognize these early signs? The unpredictable nature of clinical placements makes it impossible to predict exposure to important learning opportunities. Simulation enables us to expose the students to learning opportunities.

Measures: Self-efficacy, confidence and more.

Conclusion from the pilot: Virtual sim has an additive effect.

They are now replicating the study. They are looking for sites to collaborate with to replicate the study. (Count me in wherever I fit)

Future Focused

Over time we can improve, but we will be better if we can be inclusive and collaborate. Professional development and training is important. So is more research. We need to include a cost analysis in this research because money talks. Can we do better? Probably. Can simulation save lives? She makes a good case that it does. We should be talking to people who have the money to make change. Nurses need to be advocates to save lives through talking about simulation not as an educational tool, but a way to save lives.

The sky is the limit. Where will we be in two to five years? That is up to us. How bold will we be?


Laura Killam is an experienced nursing educator from Northern Ontario with a keen interest in improving student learning through innovation. For more information please visit


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