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NUI Galway provides online postgraduate courses in healthcare simulation and patient safety

Distance learning postgraduate course for healthcare educators is one of the few of its kind in the world

Dr. Ruha Wame Makhura, intern in Galway University Hospital, learns how to perform an arterial blood gas on a high fidelity simulator under the watchful eye of Ms. Bronwyn Reid McDermott, senior simulation technician, NUI Galway and The Irish Centre for Applied Patient Safety and Simulation.

Dr. Ruha Wame Makhura, intern in Galway University Hospital, learns how to perform an arterial blood gas on a high fidelity simulator under the watchful eye of Ms. Bronwyn Reid McDermott, senior simulation technician, NUI Galway and The Irish Centre for Applied Patient Safety and Simulation.

 

Simulation is the imitation or representation of one act or system by another. It has been used for training and systems testing in the aviation, military and nuclear power industry for many years and it is now used in healthcare for education, training and assessment, research and health systems integration. 

Healthcare simulation is a range of activities that share a broad, similar purpose: to improve the safety, effectiveness and efficiency of healthcare services. Healthcare simulation is the modern way to educate healthcare providers to achieve high performance. It encompasses manikin-based training for teamwork, task trainers for procedural skills, simulated persons for communication skills and virtual/augmented reality. 

The goal of healthcare simulation for education is to improve performance so that patient care is safer and more efficient. Healthcare simulation allows learners to prepare and practice in a safe environment before they carry out procedure on a real patient. Teams can train together to improve their performances and prepare for events such as cardiac arrests and multiple traumas and also practice events that are rare but require the team to maintain skills.

NUI Galway offers a postgraduate course in Healthcare Simulation and Patient Safety. This programme has been running since 2016 and is one of the few postgraduate courses of its kind in the world. The Masters and Diploma in Healthcare Simulation and Patient Safety have a growing international reputation, with more than a third of learners from outside of Ireland. The course uses a distance learning web-based multimedia instruction approach. There are also two 16-hour intensive workshops held at the Irish Centre for Patient Safety and Simulation Centre at NUI Galway. These hands-on workshops focus on the more complex aspects of healthcare simulation delivery such as debriefing and training simulated patients.

The purpose of the Postgraduate Diploma is to prepare the learner to run a Simulation Centre and use simulation for research, improving patient safety, testing equipment and processes, and integrating simulation into institutional healthcare training, education and delivery systems. The purpose of the Masters is to prepare the learner to deliver healthcare simulation and carry out research on or using healthcare simulation. Learners write their research findings as a thesis for publication. 

The structure of the program worked very well for me as a learner

The goals of simulation-based research differ from education and training. Researchers may be trying to understand why a particular event happened, and so simulate the event with the same and/or other clinicians. Medical devices and equipment can be tested under a range of simulated conditions before the final device is marketed and used on actual patients. New procedures and protocols can be studied under simulated conditions. The ultimate aims of simulation-based research are increasing knowledge and understanding to improve training, evaluation, and the design of healthcare systems to improve patient safety and the quality of care. 

The programmes are led by Dr Paul OConnor and Professor Dara Byrne - both internationally recognised experts in simulation-based education and research. However, there are also contributions to teaching from many other world-renowned experts in healthcare simulation. The broad content of the programmes addresses the needs of healthcare providers and educators and simulation centre employees such as technicians and managers.

I am surprised at how differently my mind now thinks, and what I have learned this year

Dr Timothy Elgin, Consultant Neonatologist and Associate Professor at The University of Iowa Health Care is currently completing his second year of the MSc Healthcare Simulation and Patient Safety, and speaks about the impact of the programme on his current teaching and approach to simulation. "I am surprised at how differently my mind now thinks, and what I have learned this year. Gone are 'I can use simulation to teach this first-year fellow to put in a chest tube,' and now the thoughts are 'how can I use simulation to improve our divisional response to future global pandemics as of yet unimagined?' Of course simulation can and should be used to teach procedures, skills and communication, and while that is certainly crucial it isnt where the magic exists, not for me at least, any longer. Changing communication, changing technical skills, changing protocols, changing behaviors, all seem to be that core of what we strive for with simulation.”

The Irish Centre for Applied Patient Safety and Simulation (ICAPSS) is located at Galway University Hospital, Ireland. ICAPSS delivers training to undergraduate and postgraduate students from NUI Galway and the Saolta University Healthcare Group and carries out research which focuses on patient safety, patient and doctor experience, medical education and simulation
The Irish Centre for Applied Patient Safety and Simulation (ICAPSS) is a collaboration between academics at NUI Galway and clinicians in Galway University Hospital. The centre focuses on simulation based education and training for undergraduate and postgraduate healthcare professions and faculty development through postgraduate programmes in healthcare simulation and patient safety research.

Dr. Elgin continues; “The structure of the program worked very well for me as a learner. Through lectures, articles and supplemental reading, my background knowledge and foundation grew steadily. Studying adult learning models in the context of simulation improved how I view scenario design, and improved the methods I employ to reach my audience. It also gave me confidence. Learning the NUI Galway approach has improved my debrief skills immensely, it has supplemented or replaced much of what I had learned in the past.”

Healthcare educators and trainers responsible for increasing knowledge and understanding to improve training, evaluation, or the design of healthcare systems to improve patient safety and the quality of care can find more information here