Simulation is raising the bar in healthcare education at UAA

by Michelle Saport  |   

Students in the UAA Paramedic Program and Nursing Program participated in an interdisciplinary simulation involving an active shooter incident at a Women's Health Center on the Mat-Su College campus. The event was the semester's final scenario-based practical exam for the paramedic students who demonstrated their knowledge of mass casualty incident management, triage, trauma care and maternal and newborn care, including complications of childbirth and neonatal resuscitation. Nursing students from the Matanuska-Susitna College outreach cohort volunteered to provide additional support and add realism to the simulated healthcare setting. The project was a joint effort between School of Nursing, EMS Training and Education, and the College of Health's newly appointed simulation network coordinator, Lisa Behrens.

Paramedic students Austen Burgh and Kyle Peter, along with nursing student Amber Enns, demonstrate neonatal care during a simulation.

Burgh, Peter and Enns demonstrate neonatal care during a simulation.

"The focus on simulation moves us into the future of healthcare education, as it provides a safe environment for students to practice in high-acuity/high-stress patient care situations," said Behrens. "This vision and work by the COH ultimately improve patient safety and outcomes in real-world healthcare situations our graduates will face in their future careers," she added. Simulation involving nursing and paramedic students is not new to the Mat-Su campus. Associate Professor of Nursing Dorothy Kinley, RN, MS, and Assistant Professor of Paramedical Technology Dane Wallace, NRP, have coordinated on several occasions to produce realistic simulations that emphasize the collaborative nature of modern healthcare. "We have a good relationship between the programs, and the students have found the collaborative simulations beneficial. It promotes the type of interdisciplinary collaboration that is a must in today's healthcare environment." Kinley said. The two are planning additional interdisciplinary learning opportunities going forward.

Paramedic students Marc Milkovich and Cole Abarr share what they've learned after a simulation with nursing student Amber Enns and UAA staff and Faculty.

Paramedic students Marc Milkovich and Cole Abarr share what they've learned after a simulation with Enns and UAA staff and Faculty.

Following the simulation, students from both programs, along with simulation staff and faculty, joined together for a debriefing to evaluate the learning objectives of the exercise. "We planned a scenario-based simulation emphasizing multiple layers of pre-hospital emergency care based on the current trend in penetrating trauma from gun-related violence that is, unfortunately, prevalent right now," said Wallace. "The debriefing gave us a chance to hear what the students learned and where they want to improve within a complex set of circumstances," he continued.

"As a component of simulation, the debriefing activity is very important. It is where the learning is consolidated and learning objectives are really emphasized," said Behrens. The focus of modern healthcare education is on improving patient outcomes and increasing patient and provider safety. The university is making major investments in simulation-based healthcare training reflective of growing evidence nationwide that simulation-based training produces better healthcare workers.

According to Kyle Peter, a student in the paramedic program, "It's better to run simulations where I have to use critical thinking in a realistic situation. We are preparing for something that could happen here. We are learning in real-life situations." Keep watching this UAA team for ongoing advancements in simulation, interdisciplinary healthcare and more collaboration within the College of Health.


For additional information please contact:

Lisa Behrens, NRP Simulation Network Coordinator, College of Health (907) 746-9314 |

Dorothy Kinley, RN Associate Professor of Nursing, School of Nursing (907) 745-9722 |

Dane Wallace, NRP Assistant Professor of Paramedical Technology, Matanuska-Susitna College (907) 746-9329 |


This story was originally posted on the UAA Green and Gold news site.