Join the SimPOW Planning Committee

The Simulation Alliance of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia (SimPOW) is excited to announce its first official planning committee. Interested candidates can volunteer by filling out the form here.

The committee will be responsible for the following:

    1. Plan and coordinate all SimPOW sessions
    2. Teach best practices and industry trends to educators and simulation advocates
    3. Record and review attendee feedback
    4. Build a network of knowledgeable educators and simulation advocates
    5. Spread awareness of simulation to local communities

Any help is appreciated. We hope for representation from all three states. Attending the quarterly SimPOW meetings is strongly encouraged.

Please direct questions about the committee to Suzie Kardong-Edgren at

RSVP for the August SimPOW Session

August SimPOW’s meeting is scheduled to meet on Saturday, August 4, 2018, at Washington Hospital, Washington PA.

Session 1: Simulation with millennials: How does it change things?
Session 2: Lessons from the street: Getting started with simulation-enhanced inter-professional education. Presented by founder and CEO of Avkin, Amy Cowperthwait, RN, MSN.

Learn more about Avkin, a company designing innovative wearable technology for simulation, here.

This free meeting will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Rice Energy Family Simulation Center, 155 Wilson Ave., Washington PA 15301. Lunch will be provided.

RSVP today! We look forward to seeing you.

Simulated Participants: Taking Simulation Seriously

This is a guest post from Avkin, written by Amy Cowperthwait, Founder and CEO. A version of this was originally posted at SimTalk Blog. Avkin offers the latest in wearable technology, and they are presenting at the August 4 SimPOW meeting. Hope to see you there!

The foundation of healthcare simulation is patient safety. In the not-so-distant past, students learned primarily from lectures and textbooks, with a smattering of skills practice before being ushered into the clinical setting and assigned a real, live patient to apply what they had learned. By introducing hands-on training in the safety of a simulation lab, schools reduce student anxiety, enhance their didactic learning, and work to protect vulnerable patients.

Once I began introducing simulation experiences as the Simulation Resource Center Coordinator of University of Delaware, I began to see the converse of student anxiety in the sim lab — student apathy.

I vividly recall a student learning basic life support, a life-saving technique. The team worked quickly to save the “patient” but not quickly enough. I informed the team over the intercom that the patient had died. The student who had been performing CPR slapped her hands down on the chest of the manikin and shouted, “You’re dead!”

As a healthcare professional, mother, daughter, and wife, I imagined what I’d do if this manikin was actually was someone I cared for. I certainly wouldn’t be pleased by the callousness of the student.

One of the most crucial reminders for students is to pretend that the manikin, model, or trainer is a real person. They should imagine it is a family member or loved one. They should care for this device like they would a real human being.

I don’t blame students who are unable to suspend disbelief. It’s impossible to empathize with foam and plastic. That’s why I developed Healthcare Theatre at the University of Delaware and advocate the use of simulated participants (either patients or family members) wherever I go.

Taking Simulation Seriously

  • Future health professionals acting as patients begin to see things through the eyes of the patient and develop empathy. Having a procedure done, especially one as invasive as suctioning or replacing a tracheostomy, is frightening. Allowing students to witness patient’s vantage is incredibly useful.
  • No current technology can match the realism of a human patient. As professionals, students will regularly encounter resistance from patients. It’s best they begin to learn this while under the guidance of a trained educator.
  • Students are more likely to be enthused and engaged when interacting with simulated participants. Performing procedures on real humans who can respond appropriately to care and provide patient-centered feedback helps the student understand patients’ perspective and gain confidence for future interactions.

However, what I discovered early on is the benefit of simulated participants is limited with regard to the medical complexity of the scenario.

One way to take advantage of the benefits of both the manikin technology and interaction of the simulated participants is the Avkin system. You can learn more here.


SimPOW is meeting at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) Saturday April 14, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Putt Hall.

The program from IUP will be How Simulation can be used to Foster Effective Communication with Vulnerable Populations.


    1. Using Simulation to Foster Communications in Large Groups (more than 65 students) using Tag Team Patient Safety/Australia source
    2. Technology and Tools to Foster Communication with Autism Spectrum Patients using iPad Technology
    3. Enhancing Emphatic Communication

Lunch is provided. The meeting is in the basement of Putt Hall.

To register, you can contact Pocket Nurse:; or Dana Bargerstock:

We are looking forward to seeing you!

Community College Challenges: Scholarship

Over at SimTalkBlog, there’s an article about funding challenges that simulation programs face at community colleges. The article is based on a white paper (see end of article for link) presented to the Society for Simulation in Healthcare (SSH) and the International Nursing Association for Clinical Simulation and Learning (INACSL).

An angle of the white paper that we find interesting is about Research and Scholarship at community colleges. According to the surveyed institutions, one of the challenges in this area is that while research is important so that institutions have data to support simulation efforts, limited support exists for community college faculty participation in conferences, research, and publication.


Research at community colleges is conducted at less than half of the respondents’ simulation centers or laboratories. If research is conducted, it is informal or action research, and very little of that gets published. Most community college faculty face barriers to participate in research activities. They are expected to spend most of their workload involved in classroom teaching. Very few community colleges encourage engagement in scholarship activities.


“All simulation faculty completeing the survey belong to at least one simulation organization.” The majority belong to only one organization, with less than 40 percent of the respondents belonging to two or more. One of the barriers is, of course, membership fees. More than half of community college simulation faculty pay out of pocket for membership fees, and most also pay at least partly out of pocket for conference attendance.

This seems like a good opportunity to remind our readers that SimPOW has no membership fees associated with it, or minimum participation rules of attendance. We hope you can join us for our next meeting, on April 14, at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Email for more information!

Entering the Realm of Simulation: An Educator’s Perspective

by Dana Bargerstock, RN, MSN

The decision to complete an RN-MSN program led me to Robert Morris University, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and into healthcare simulation at the Research and Innovation in Simulation Education (RISE) Center. I was part of an initial expansion where part-time instructors were hired to supplement a growing simulation schedule, even though at the time, I had zero simulation experience.

What I did have was previous technical and computer experience, which would prove to be extremely helpful in the world of simulation. I joined a team that had implemented the simulation program at RMU from its conception.

During the mentorship program for the first year of employment, I began learning immediately by reading recommended articles on simulation and debriefing, familiarizing myself with INACSL standards, and observing existing simulation classes with my mentor. I had a notebook full of notes by the end of the first semester.

What I found was everyone had an exponential amount of information in their brains where no one else could see it. I personally felt that I had a multitude of unanswered questions and although I knew the general subject matter of the day’s events I had no detailed plan, which I felt I needed.

The turning point came when I completed classes in Healthcare Simulation and Management offered by Robert Morris University as a graduate certificate.

What I Learned

  • Ways to design and manage simulations
  • Create lesson plans
  • Perform debriefing
  • Orient new simulation instructors
  • Operate a simulation center

I was able to identify key ingredients we were missing in our lesson plans, initiate a new employee onboarding process, and implement programs for quality control.

Our lesson plans have been updated with all details, and anyone should be able to follow the lesson plan and deliver a consistent experience for learners. It has been two and a half years since I have entered the world of simulation. I continue to learn every day and try to keep up on research, attend conferences, and stay relevant in simulation technology.

My suggestions for inexperienced simulation instructors or for those that have an interest in simulation is to complete some type of formal education on simulation, read the literature, understand INACSL standards, practice debriefing, and to have the confidence to speak up when fresh eyes notice needed improvements.

To stay up-to-date on the latest topics in healthcare education and simulation, subscribe to SimTalk blog, join WhatsAPP to learn about SimPOW meetings.

Dana Bargerstock, RN, MSN, is a simulation educator and the Operations Manager of the RISE Center at RMU.

SimPOW Heads to Ohio

The February session of SimPOW is Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Attendance is free, and lunch is provided.

Faculty from Franciscan University will be presenting information about nursing, technology, and practical innovations in simulation.

Event Agenda

The meeting is in the nursing department in Stafford/Egan Hall. Parking is available next to the building. Once everyone is settled in and has had some lunch, presentations will start at 11:30 a.m.

First up, Richard Antinone and Catherine Recznik will discuss how to enhance your nursing or allied healthcare program with simulation.

Then, at 12:30, faculty from Franciscan University will present a demonstration entitled: “Running Sim on a Shoestring: Innovations in simulation with a limited budget.”

Questions and wrap up will close out the meeting. CE credits are available. RSVP by February 16, 2018, by emailing

We look forward to seeing you there!

More Than Educators

The December SimPOW meeting examined ways to advance healthcare and medical simulation. Speakers included Pocket Nurse CEO and President Anthony Battaglia, MS, RN, and John O’Donnell, CRNA, MSN, DrPH. O’Donnell was awarded the 2017 Nurse Educator of the Year by Pittsburgh Magazine.

Anthony’s subject was “More than educators: Identifying opportunities to advance simulation and yourself.” He told stories as a former nurse and an entrepresnuer about learning to develop new simulation resources for educational advancement.

John spoke on “The Simulation Explosion,” presenting the top literature, best practices, and latest innovations in simulation. He then lead the open discussion on program and simulation evaluation.

The meeting took place at the Pocket Nurse facilities in Monaca, PA. Please view the video below to see the talks.

The next SimPOW meeting is Saturday, February 24th, at Franciscan University in Steubenville, OH. Stay tuned for details!

What would you like to see on the SimPOW agenda?

What is SimPOW?

SimPOW is an alliance of healthcare educators and medical simulation users in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia. We have no fees and no attendance commitments. We just ask for enthusiasm about simulation in education and a willingness to meet others to share best practices and ideas.

Objectives of SimPOW

  • Benefit healthcare simulation users in the tri-state area (western PA, northwestern WV, and eastern OH)
  • Advance the use of evidence-based practices in simulation to improve education and, ultimately, patient safety
  • Serve as a resource for each other to facilitate simulation and share ideas

Participant Expectations

Mindful of the difficulty of other regional alliances, we propose an almost no-cost approach to SimPOW. We use WhatsAPP to announce meetings, ask questions, and share ideas. This communication method has been successful for others in our community, such as INACSL/CAE fellowship members. To learn more about this no-cost method of communication, see the WhatsApp site here and follow the directions to sign up.

So far, SimPOW has had two free conferences. The first was hosted by Suzie Kardong-Edgren, Ph.D., RN, ANEF, SHSE, FSSH, FAAN, and director of the Regional Research in Simulation Education Center (RISE) at Robert Morris University. The second was hosted by Pocket Nurse®, a leading distributor and manufacturer of medical and healthcare simulation solutions. Pocket Nurse is owned and operated by Anthony Battaglia, MS, BSN, RN, and is starting its twenty-sixth year of successful operation.