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Simulations – better prepared for the real thing?

Simulations – better prepared for the real thing?


Work can be pretty stressful sometimes – deadlines loom, mistakes happen and sometimes clients throw in curve balls. If you’re feeling stressed out by work, spare a thought for the healthcare professionals on the front-line who day-in day-out deal with far greater challenges. It’s no surprise that burnout and even posttraumatic stress disorder can be common in high-pressure specialties like intensive care.1 There is some evidence that coping techniques, such as mindfulness, may help in the short-term,2 but recent evidence suggests that simulation training may also reduce stress.3 A trial examined if a five-day training course that involved simulation could support intensive care nurses in France. Researchers found that after 6 months, nurses who received the training reported significantly lower job stress and had fewer sickness absences than those who did not receive the intervention.
At Real Science, we have also seen that programmes that combine data, narrative and experience can bring real value. We believe that engaging the logical, emotional and sensorial systems everyone uses to navigate the world makes for a more life-like learning experience. Based on this whole-system approach, we supported the development of an innovative simulation-led educational programme to help improve the management of thrombotic microangiopathies (TMAs). TMAs are rare and life-threatening conditions, causing small blood clots to form in the circulation leading to multiple organ failure, including the brain and kidneys. Each TMA simulation included actors and time-pressured case information in order to stretch the participants’ capabilities. Thrown in at the deep end, the simulations started with paramedics arriving with the patient and their relatives. Participating clinicians had to make decisions quickly in the face of regular interruptions – test results arriving, relatives asking questions, and patients becoming more distressed – in order to confirm an accurate diagnosis and save the patient’s life.
Not only was the TMA Preceptorship a finalist in the category of Excellence in Professional Education Programmes at the Communique Awards in 2017, but 100% of the diagnosing clinicians participating said they felt more confident in identifying and diagnosing TMAs as a direct result of attending, an outcome we couldn’t be prouder of. By fully engaging our audiences logically, emotionally and sensorially, we can create programmes that are instinctively better.

  1. Azoulay E, Herridge M. Understanding ICU staff burnout: the show must go on. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2011:184(10):1099-1100.

  2. Cohen-Katz J, Wiley SD, Capuano T, et al. Holistic Nurs Prac  2005:19(1);26-35.

  3. El Khamali R, Mouaci A, Valera S, et al. JAMA. 2018;320(19):1988-1997.