Our Thinking

The High Fidelity Learning Experience of Medical Simulations

Luke Kempski

Video Interview with Penn State College of Medicine’s Associate Dean for Clinical Simulation

The path to mastery and improved performance involves practice and experience. This is true if you are an athlete, a helicopter pilot, a paramedic or a customer service representative. For education and professional development in the medical field, simulations have provided practice and experiential learning opportunities for years. Recently, I had the chance to talk with Dr. Elizabeth Sinz, the Associate Dean for Clinical Simulation at the Penn State College of Medicine. Dr. Sinz sees the high fidelity learning experiences of simulations as essential to educating medical professionals.


Clinical Simulation at the Penn State College of MedicineBefore participating in a simulation, students need a foundation of knowledge and skills. Dr. Sinz works closely with the educators to ensure that the simulations occur at a stage in the curriculum when students are prepared. Additionally, she works closely with professors to ensure they are using experiential learning in the best way for teaching, practice, and assessment.


The College of Medicine at  Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical CenterWhile many of the simulations at Penn State College of Medicine involve real medical facilities, equipment and mannequins, they also use computer-based or “flat-screen” simulations. These high-fidelity learning experiences are available on-demand but often require a higher, upfront investment.


The College of Medicine is located within the  Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. This broadens the use of the simulation lab beyond medical students to also include continuing education for physicians, nurses, medical specialists and even maintenance and housekeeping personnel. Dr. Sinz has also extended the lab’s capabilities into the hospital to have a greater impact and to even teach patients how to perform medical procedures on themselves.


While not new, simulation technology continues to become more accessible beyond their original uses in the military and with high risk occupations like pilots, surgeons and law enforcement specialists. For those of us who create eLearning, we’re always looking to have the learner perform under conditions that most simulate the conditions they will face on the job. When we push our creativity, we can find ways to make simulations part of our instructor-led and eLearning courses. This will give the learner those practice opportunities that lead to improved performance.

To learn more about the simulation lab at the Penn State College of Medicine, visit http://www.pennstatehershey.org/web/simulation .

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