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I was born to simulate.


I’ve been simulating since I was a young child. As the smallest kid in my neighborhood, I wasn’t allowed to play kickball with the bigger kids. So I simulated. Of course, I didn't call it simulating. I called it playing. 


I spent my days turning my room into a lab where I was a professor involved in an experiment. To increase realism, I even managed to score some lab paraphernalia from my cousin who was taking chemistry in college. I would get tongue depressors and supplies from my family physician and provide care to my Human Patient Simulators (HPS), also known as Dressy Bessy® and Drowsy®.


As I got older, I stopped playing but I kept simulating. I called it practice or rehearsing or skills lab. I became an instructor for the American Heart Association and used simulation for nearly 20 years, still not calling it simulation.


In 2004, I moved into the academic setting. My job was to direct the nursing learning resource center. There, I found a variety of manikins and began using them to teach technical skills. But I felt something was missing. So I developed a case and designed a scenario that we integrated into our curriculum. I wanted to see students communicate and manage time. I worked to convince the faculty to give it a try. Together we planned and executed the simulation. We did it! And the students loved it. It wasn’t perfect. In fact, we made a lot of mistakes. But, we knew we were onto something.


Later that year – 2006 – I found a conference for learning resources centers. There they spoke of this thing called simulation and suddenly, everything made sense. Playing, pretending, and practicing are simulation and simulation is a fun and safe way to learn.


We’ve come a long way since that first simulation but that scenario is still part of our curriculum. Over the years, my role has become more administrative, but I still work with the course instructors to improve and refine the scenario. I ensure this and all our simulations meet the standards for best practice. I found evaluation tools to assess student performance in simulation. I work alongside simulation faculty at my institution and as a consultant, checking inter-rater reliability within SBL activities, answering questions, and mentoring. I present at international conferences.


I use my administrative position as a platform to promote simulation in all courses so that we have simulation fully integrated in our curriculum. I ensure there is a budget to support our simulation program. I consistently represent my institution’s simulation program as I interact with other simulation professionals from around the globe to find new and even better ways to simulate. I believe simulation is one of the most valuable educational strategies, so my job never feels like work. To me, simulation is still a lot like playing.


Yes, I was born to simulate!


Flight Suit
circa 1970
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