These days, emergency medical services (EMS) providers are being asked to do more than perform high-risk, low-reward healthcare procedures. Many out-of-hospital departments are being educated to do comprehensive physical assessments as well.
Simulation should be at the core of healthcare education, including EMS education and training. Unfortunately, as was revealed in the 2015 Simulation Use in Paramedic Research (SUPER) study, although 91 percent of respondents say they have access to simulation technology, only 71 percent use the equipment. (Source)
Common barriers to adopting simulation in EMS systems include creating a safe learning environment, investing in simulation – both technology and training faculty – and collecting data.
Create a safe learning environment
Simulation encourages the adoption of a safe learning environment, physically, emotionally, and psychologically. Simulation isn’t about criticizing students for any lack. It encourages learners to fully participate in their education. Immersive scenarios and debriefing allow students to understand new concepts in a controlled environment, see why a task or concept was incorrect, and gives students relevant experience for their professional development.
Invest in simulation technology
While a program may not always need to most expensive equipment for simulation, students do need access to relevant educational materials and tools. Developing partnerships with other programs that use simulation is one way to save money and still have access to manikins, screen-based simulation tools, and patient equipment.
Invest in educators
Faculty need to know how to teach with the tools and technology that simulation provides. Educators that enter simulation education have to understand the methodologies they are expected to support. Knowledgeable and confident faculty improve use of simulation technology, demonstrates its importance, and improves outcomes from classroom to clinic.
All organizations that collect data on the outcomes of their processes and analyze those outcomes is bound to find the things that are successful, and can build on their success. For example, an EMS organization collects information about call times, EMS runs, and number of procedures performed per year. If they notice the outcomes for patients who need to be intubated is not ideal, they can create a skill-based workshop to improve intubation skills. The next time they collect and analyze data, they should notice improvement in patient outcomes. Data points that demonstrate improvement strengthen the argument that simulation is a worthwhile investment.
This is a summarization of the article “Removing the Barriers that Prohibit Using Simulation in EMS,” by Patel, A.; Garner, D.; and Crosby, D. published in JEMS, Sept. 4, 2015. To see how these barriers were overcome in the Wake County EMS and WakeMed Health and Hospitals organizations, see the full article here.