The Naval Postgraduate School’s (NPS) Modeling, Virtual Environments and Simulation Institute (MOVES), in partnership with the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS), has developed a graduate-level certificate program that provides health care simulation center directors, staff, users and supporters with state of the art education focused on the theory and practice of health care simulation.
The Healthcare Simulation certificate program is delivered asynchronously to students across the country already serving as managers of programs using modeling and simulation to train health care professionals. Graduates of the one-year program will be versed in the current best practices of health care training and education.
“The students participating in our first cohort are already managing the use of simulation training,” noted U.S. Navy Cmdr. Joseph Sullivan, director of NPS’ MOVES Institute. “They are well established leaders in the health care profession, but their knowledge of simulation has been primarily self taught. This certificate offers the opportunity for formalized training, and illustrates the underlying principles of applying and developing simulation solutions.”
Noting the forecasted shortage of health care professionals in the United States over the coming decade, Sullivan sees modeling and simulation as an effective way to bridge a critical gap in the health care industry, and the development of a modeling and simulation management certificate as a meaningful endeavor.
“Studies are showing there will be a shortfall of health care professionals in the United States,” noted Sullivan. “Between now and 2020, there will be an estimated 5.6 million new jobs for health care workers nationwide. Partnering with USUHS to deliver this certificate program is kind of a perfect storm in timing.”
Senior health care leaders within the Department of Defense (DOD) are increasingly looking towards modeling and simulation to fill these shortfalls.
“We are having the exact same problems as the civilian sector when it comes to the need for qualified medical providers,” noted Sullivan. “One of the advantages we have is that Assistant of Secretary of Defense for Healthcare Affairs, Dr. Jonathan Woodson, recognizes this problem and wants to use simulation as a means to radically reform the education model to meet this demand.”
Currently there are 16 DOD simulation centers and three Department of Veterans Affairs learning centers utilizing modeling and simulation to train health care workers. When senior members from USUHS began looking for solutions to address the shortfalls in qualified modeling and simulation managers, MOVES and NPS were uniquely positioned to offer education opportunities to help meet the shortage.
“We were fortunate that the health care community approached us, but we were more fortunate that the MOVES Institute has the flexibility and structure to get the expertise we need to compose a solution that works for the warfighter,” noted Sullivan.
Creating the certificate program relied on the modeling and simulation expertise of MOVES as well as medical expertise provided by USUHS professionals. The ability for this level of collaboration is seen as unique to the DOD.
“To build this certificate program, expertise was needed from both health care professionals and simulation professionals,” noted Sullivan. “There is no one organization that has both those areas of expertise, but the DOD.”
Each of the four courses offered in the certificate program pairs an NPS modeling and simulation professor with a subject matter expert from USUHS.
“The certificate program is a nice collaboration between the Uniformed Services University and NPS,” noted Dr. Joe Lopreiato, a Professor of Pediatrics and Associate Dean for Simulation Education at USUHS. “The MOVES institute has more than 10 years of expertise in modeling and simulation, but they have no expertise in the medical field.
“We are a graduate and undergraduate medical and nursing school,” continued Lopreiato, who helped to develop the partnership and is currently enrolled in the certificate courses to glean a student’s perspective of the program. “What we bring to the program is the health care content and expertise, and NPS brings the expertise in how to deliver modeling and simulation.”
In addition to tailored instruction to students on the theoretical and practical application of the general methodologies of simulation, the course also aims to grow the body of scholarly knowledge and advance research efforts in the field of health care modeling and simulation.
“Each student in the program must produce or submit a proposal for a research project to earn the certificate,” noted Lopreiato. “The health care system benefits because we generate research projects from the program, and this research will continue well after the certificate is earned.
“We expect there will be some scholarly work developed and the field of health care simulation will be moved forward with each iteration of this course,” he continued.
According to Wendy Walsh, a program coordinator from MOVES, the partnership between the two organizations deepens the education provided through the program.
“We are very fortunate to have amazing partners from USUHS acting as subject matter experts throughout the coursework,” noted Walsh. “We could not deliver the quality of education without their efforts.”
The creation and delivery of the modeling and simulation certificate exemplifies the strength of MOVES, and demonstrates the institute’s ability to solve critical problems in a variety of domains.
“This is a good model we have in the MOVES Institute,” noted Sullivan. “We can find application domains, and we can find science and technology that can be composed differently to meet the needs of that application domain. It’s what we’re doing with our partners from USUHS, and it can be replicated in a variety of areas to solve DOD problems.”
With the inaugural cohort of students at the brink of completing their first course in the series, Lopreiato is optimistic about the effectiveness of the instruction, and the future application and success of the program within the DOD.
“This is the first year the course is running, we are already offering another certificate program next year,” noted Lopreiato. “We are in the process of looking for long-term funding for this course to happen every year. We believe there is a large enough audience within the DoD to continue to grow this effort.”