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HPS/SP Selection Process
circa 1968


To SP or not SP! That is the question.


After years of conveying the importance of SBL to others through presentations and negotiations, I was finally given a budget, architect, and facilities manager. I got the green light to design a state-of-the-art simulation center for nursing.


I had toured sim centers through INACSL and colleagues I met through networking. It was on a tour of Villanova University’s simulation center that it happened. I fell in love. I walked into the room and was in love – with Sim Man. I wanted a Sim Man of my own. After all, what woman wouldn’t want a man she could program to be the perfect patient for every scenario?


My fellow simulation specialists and I travelled to Miami and met HAL and we were all agog the day he arrived on our campus and became ours. We were so excited, we wanted to use him for every simulation. And we did. But it wasn’t long before we realized HAL was not the perfect man we thought he was. He was awesome, but he didn’t meet all our needs as we had hoped he would. But instead of going back to the standards for simulation, we thought SPs would be the answer to everything. So we put HAL in a chair in the back room and started using SPs for all of our simulations. Of course, that didn’t work out that well either. SPs do not want invasive tubes inserted in them. And SPs can’t just force themselves to have S3s and crackles. And not all skills required a full scenario-based simulation for assessment and evaluation.


We had to stop jumping on bandwagons and ask ourselves what we really want. And what we really want is for our students to have the best SBE program possible. I went back to the standards for simulation and began inservicing the staff on the importance of designing simulations based on the learners’ needs. As the director of the simulation program, I need to ensure that everyone involved in SBL is following those standards when choosing modalities. We all needed to remember that learning does not always take place in the scenario but in the debriefing that follows – regardless of whether we used HPS or SPs.


It is not about the vendors in the exhibit halls that fascinate us with their bells and whistles. It’s about the students. It’s about their entire SBL experience. It’s about the needs and evaluating the impact of the SBL activities on the outcomes.


We have HPS, SPs, and Ventrilloscopes to help make the SBL experience the best for our students. We still love HAL and we still each have preferences but we constantly remind ourselves that it is the objectives of the SBL activities and constant evaluation that make the decision for us, not love.


To SP or not SP? That is still the question.

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