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South Texas VA Medical Center Hosts First Simulation Essentials Course at the Audie L. Murphy Memorial Veterans Hospital

STVHCS Nurses practicing on a manikin during a simulation exercise.

In collaboration with SimLEARN’s Assessment Collaboration and Outreach (ACO) Team, the South Texas Veterans Health Care System (STVHCS) Simulation Center hosted their first Simulation Essentials Course at the Audie L. Murphy Memorial Veterans Hospital.

The Simulation Learning, Evaluation, Assessment, and Research Network (SimLEARN) is the VA's program for simulation in health care training. The ACO team is a subdivision of SimLEARN who diffuse best practices from the National Simulation Center and collaborating partners to offer quality assurance of SimLEARN programs in the field and conduct system testing and latent hazard identification to promote best practices and minimize risks to patients. This course was offered throughout Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN 17), allowing VA Nurse Educators, Sim Techs, Physicians, and front-line staff from all over the region to participate and learn how to evaluate the outcomes and impact of simulation-based learning.

A Simulation is an imitative representation of a process or system that could exist in the real world. For example, in a simulation exercise, if a medical emergency turned into a cardiac arrest (Code Blue), staff would be able to treat the simulation just as they would a real patient. Practicing through simulation provides an overview of how staff or a system in place performs, to implement methods to improve performance, safety, and ultimately patient care. Simulation education is steadily on the rise for multiple disciplines such as engineering and healthcare industries. Simulation-based learning has become increasingly popular in recent years as more and more educators recognize its many benefits such as increasing patient safety, improving existing processes with making new modifications and increasing provider’s confidence in what they are doing. Having the ability to test the ‘what ifs’ scenarios without risking real consequences have allowed the opportunity to learn valuable hands-on information and experiences that are at times, difficult to obtain in real life. It is a powerful tool for learners of all backgrounds, offering a safe and effective way to develop and practice skills and knowledge in a real-world context.

The 2-day course focused on specific needs by using modalities available within medical facilities and building the simulation experience such as standardized patients, task trainers, and low to high fidelity manikins that provides computer-based simulation, and virtual/augmented reality. From learning and understanding the methodology, to hands-on training and evaluation, this course covered all aspects of simulation technology implementation. South Texas VA’s Simulation Program Director, Deborah Bartoshevich, co-facilitated the simulation essential course along with ACO Facilitator, Ms. Vanessa Aycock. This marked the first time STVHCS hosted the course.  Both instructors provided the learners with valuable tips and strategies to mastering the art of debriefing and facilitating successful simulation sessions. “We are hoping to be able to offer the course locally in 2024 because we understand how valuable simulation is used for an educational technique.” Ms. Bartoshevich said. The facilitators emphasized on interdisciplinary collaboration using simulation as a tool to improve the care we provide and increase the efficiency and safety of the work environment.

The Simulation Essentials Course is designed to help increase the knowledge of how simulation can be used in every work environment, not just clinical. To learn more about the South Texas Veteran Health Care System Simulation Center, please contact Deborah Bartoshevich, Simulation Program Director, at

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