Simulations in the Indiana State University’s DAT program

What would a haunted house for athletic trainers look like? Lots of blood, compound fractures, and multiple patients?

Well if you’ve done your DAT at Indiana State University, it’s going to be tough to scare you. Check out this article from ISU’s Program Director, Dr. Lindsey Eberman, that showcases the simulations that their students experience and how their alum leverage that knowledge to further their careers.

By:  Dr. Lindsey Eberman

In the early days of healthcare and medicine, the apprenticeship model was the go-to form of education. This was built on the idea of social learning, where folks can observe others, then mimic those skills and action with lots of repetitions. However, at the turn of the 19th century, Dr. William Osler, was characterized as the father of clinical education, in that he championed a clerkship model that taught medical students at the bedside.

However, over time, we realized that “just-in-time” teaching no longer met the needs of patients and we also needed a strong theoretical and practical foundation in the sciences to deliver high quality healthcare.

Enter, Abraham Flexner, who, although not a doctor, was one of the most impactful medical educators in the world. I’m sure this will come as a shock, but women, at this time, were sidelined for much of this emergence in medical education, being restricted from enrolling in medical schools, not just by the school’s charters, but also by the med doctors too. Women were left to train themselves, and were shut out of licensing and recognition among their men peers. 

According to the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education, clinical education is broad, umbrella term that includes clinical experiences and simulation. Simulation is an educational technique to replace or amplify experiences that replicate the real world in a fully interactive manner.

Simulation includes things like mock patients, standardized patients, and structured clinical exams, some of which include high-technology simulators. Simulations have been part of the athletic training education vernacular since the early 2000s, but have become highlights of programs, professional, postprofessional, and residency, in the last several years. 

Indiana State University Athletic Training has a long history of leveraging simulation in our educational programs, partnering with the Rural Health Innovation Collaborative Simulation Center to offer countless simulations to our students. Since my arrival at Indiana State, I’ve has used simulation as a centerpiece in teaching.

Among the most impactful, are the simulations, curated under my guidance by the postprofessional Doctorate in Athletic Training students. Students learn about the pedagogical practice of simulation, then work in groups to create and deliver a high-quality simulation to their classmates. And although not all simulations need to be mass casualty, many of them have been developed in that way; the reason being… students need an opportunity to practice high intensity health care in a safe way, so if they make mistakes, they can learn from them, grow, and ensure they do not make those mistakes when the real patients need care.

Indiana State Dat simulations have included what it is like to be in a tornado shelter, to treat patients having been struck by lightning, and several versions of active shooter drills. These simulations need environmental, psychological, and technical fidelity, meaning, they need to look and feel like a real life situation.

The partnership with the Simulation Center allows the students to use trained actors, moulage (makeup), part-task trainers (think gushing femoral artery), an ambulance, and most recently a Lifeline Helicopter to set the scene for their classmates. The groups prepare their classmates with a prebrief scenario, assign them roles and responsibilities, monitor and assess the learning during the simulation, and debrief them afterwards.

Because they are enrolled in an educator course, they are well prepared to articulate the learning outcomes of the simulation, ensuring their assessments match the goals they set at the outcome. Alum have found the ability to curate a simulation, an asset when applying for jobs. Many have secured titles like “Director of Continuing Professional Development” and “Continuing Education Coordinator” because they have a proven track record of being able to create and offer high quality learning to practicing professionals. 

simulation of a patient for athletic trainers that was in a bicycle accident
helicopter flies over simulation of athletic trainers assisting patients in a bicycle accident

The program also delivers simulations to students, specifically, standardized patient encounters, that allow the DAT to monitor and evaluate the students’ development as an advanced practice clinician. This sets them apart from the other DAT programs, in that they use their focused-intensive learning weekends to ensure that what students are learning, they are also able to perform in as-close-to-real-life as possible.

These simulations have included interprofessional and collaborative practice with physical therapy, social work, and genetic counseling students. Among the most powerful experiences was a suicidal ideation simulation that had lasting impacts on alum.

To read more about what Dr. Eberman and her colleagues have done to enhance simulation in athletic training education, view this list of articles:

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