Simulation Expert Shares Educational Strategy for Debriefing

Marjorie Miller, MS, RN, Certified Healthcare Simulation Education, nursing education consultant and lead faculty with the California Simulation Alliance, recently presented “Debriefing Dynamics: Essential Elements of Simulation Debriefing” to Vanderbilt University School of Nursing (VUSN) faculty and staff members. In the workshop, Miller discussed simulation as an educational strategy and emphasized the importance of debriefing, a process that clarifies the learning and reflection essential to simulation success.

Based on adult learning theories, the most valuable simulations involve specific steps. The pre-briefing stage covers the basic assumptions, confidentiality and understanding that the simulation is fictional. The next step is to create a positive learning environment that includes psychological and professional safety and ground rules for participants. Once the simulation has occurred, the final stage—debriefing—involves highlighting thinking, identifying and closing performance gaps and creating new mental models to apply to clinical settings.

Members of the VUSN audience participated in three different simulation scenarios, and Miller coached the volunteers in the different roles involved. One simulation scenario involved a video of a health care team medicating a baby with Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT). A breakdown in communication between the providers during the simulation resulted in a medical error. The debriefing session included faculty volunteers playing the role of either the parent, nurse, nurse practitioner or pharmacist in the SVT scenario. Key takeaways from the simulated health care team focused on more specific communication and better prioritizing patient and family needs. The debriefing stage’s success was based on an impartial debriefer guiding the discussion.

Miller’s presentation was part of a faculty development program provided by VUSN’s Academics and Informatics areas.