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Where’s Rocky? The Sim Center goes to South Africa

December 1, 2012

Nursing faculty from the College’s Center for Interdisciplinary Clinical Simulation and Practice (CICSP) spent the week of November 26, 2012 at The University of the Free State in Bloemfontein, South Africa, which is the judicial capitol located in the heart of the country. Leland “Rocky” Rockstraw, PhD, Linda Wilson, PhD, Carol Okupniak, and John Cornele provided a simulation immersion certificate in healthcare simulation for a diverse group of midwives, nurses, clinical skills staff, managers, lecturers, simulation equipment suppliers, and technical staff who came from multiple South African universities as well as from the country of Botswana. For several years, the College of Nursing and Health Professions has hosted weeklong certification in simulation courses in which attendees learn about the creation, implementation and debriefing of simulation scenarios. Two representatives from South Africa, Maria Phillips, Director of Human Patient Simulation at The University of the Free State, and Mandie Jacobs, Director of Standardized Patient Simulation at the University, attended this certification at Drexel in 2010. In collaboration with Rockstraw and his colleagues, these faculty from South Africa coordinated an ‘on-site’ visit of the Drexel Nursing Faculty to share the CICSP’s knowledge and expertise from Philadelphia to South Africa.

Initially, Rockstraw was anxious to see if the “Train the Trainer” workshop would run smoothly. “I had administrative concerns about our ability to work with a staff other than our own, and in a country where technology was not known; however, the University of the Free States simulation staff were very attentive, helpful, and accommodating. They were nervous to meet our standards, not knowing our level of expectation in providing simulation experiences. They were phenomenal,” Rockstraw said. “From a faculty perspective, their prior knowledge and their desire to perform mirrored what we usually see here in the United States. I thought there might be more of a divide but this wasn’t the case.” Although the course was very intense and time-consuming for everyone involved, he believes that any contact internationally that can promote simulation is critically important and very valuable.

In bringing their expertise in this new venue of student learning to another country, Rockstraw and his team were internationally promoting what Drexel has become known for: pushing the envelope with technological innovations. The Drexel College of Nursing and Health Professions has the only Nursing program in the United States with a Standardized Patient Simulation Program with “high stakes nursing simulation”. Combined with the computerized full body length manikins; these two types of simulation foster individual skill development, teamwork, and resource management. Simulation in both practice and evaluation help students gain confidence and competence, both of which promote safe patient environments.