Simulation Training Worth the High Costs

Emily Berry , May 22, 2009

A study recently released by Danish researchers highlighted findings well-known to Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota: Simulation training makes better practitioners.

The Children's Hospitals developed a mobile pediatric simulation training unit—the first of its kind in the nation—after receiving a donation from Kohl's Department Stores in 2006. It cost about $750,000 to build and initially stock the training van, and additional funds to maintain it.

"I can't tell you there's a huge return on the actual investment other than training," says Phillip Kibort, MD, MBA, chief medical officer and vice president of medical affairs at Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. However, good clinical training is priceless. "If CEOs have a basic understanding of quality and safety principles, they know simulation is important and the better your simulation the better, probably, your outcomes are going to be," he says.

The mobile simulation unit is housed in an RV that can train teams of up to eight people at a time. Teams may consist of physicians, nurses, respiratory care practitioners, paramedics, and pharmacists.

"That's really one of the benefits of simulation training, you can train in teams the way you really work," says Karen Mathias, RN, MSN, APRN, BC, director of Children's Simulation Center. "In the past, I think most healthcare professionals trained in silos, physicians would go to physician training, nurses would go to nurse training."

Last year, the mobile unit trained 240 practitioners at 30 hospitals in Minnesota and Wisconsin. "We charge our hospital clients $2,300 per day, plus mileage," says Mathias. Mobile training is a great option, especially for rural facilities that can't spare practitioners for days of off-site training. Additionally, the hospitals don't have to pay hotel fees and travel costs that come with off-site training.

Advances in hospital simulation training are similar to the life-like training methods used by the airline industry. In the past, medical staffs would simulate patient care training by talking through a situation.

"But without the physical manikin where you can change the heart rate, the breathing, the temperature, the color, it doesn't quite do as well as when you have the actual manikin," says Kibort. "I think as the technology gets better, there'll be better and better simulation."

Emily Berry is an associate editor for Briefings on Credentialing and Credentialing Resource Center Connection, and manages the Credentialing Resource Center. You can reach her at

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