Frequently Asked Questions – Part 2

The Avline lets learners practice central line care in a safe environment.

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The second part of our FAQ focuses on properly training your SPs and preparing them for simulation. To help you address issues you may be facing, we are sharing some Frequently Asked Questions we receive, and our advice for these situations and concerns.

How to keep SPs from going off the rails and staying in character?

Going off the rails could mean a couple of different things: the SP is taking liberties with the character in simulation, or they stray from the learning objectives.

In simulations, the SP may go beyond the bounds of what was planned, harming learning objectives in the process. The most common cause of this is the lack of a complete character. If the SPs are given just a paragraph, they must use their imagination to fill in the blanks. They are actors, so they will improvise. Their mindset is ‘I’m here to perform.’ When given just a small piece, they will naturally try to make it bigger. You need to create enough of a character so they feel challenged instead of underused.

Dress rehearsals are another tool to help SPs stay on track. They get into the bed in the rehearsal, get in character, and practice, ideally with all actors portraying the same patient. Everyone can observe how SPs will perform the character, get coaching notes, and standardize the portrayal of the patient.

The debriefing process is another place an SP can go off the rails. Sometimes in debriefing, the SP decides that it will be their soapbox, and they can fix the healthcare industry by educating your learners. For effective feedback, an SP will need parameters and education. It is vital that SPs complete training before being integrated into a simulation. Using a form to guide the SPs can help then focus their debriefing on relevent topics serving learner outcomes.

Staying in character is a different problem with different solutions. Mainly, it can be solved by performing improv and practicing situations where the actor may not have the answers. Any SP who regularly breaks character will need additional coaching and to have clearly defined limits. If they still can’t stay in character, they may not be a good candidate to continue playing that particular patient. While you may not wait to hurt feelings, you must protect the fidelity of the simulation. Consider moving the SP to an easier simulation to try and build skill and experience. If they still struggle, you may need to reconsider using them in simulation. Unfortunately, not everyone can be an effective SP.

What’s the difference between a Dry Run and a Dress Rehearsal?

A dry run is a practice run anytime you do a simulation for the first time or anytime you’ve made significant changes to an existing simulation. You should include any faculty involved in the practiced simulation and an SP if the simulation will use one. It usually takes place a few months before the simulation will be used to ensure SPs aren’t given wrong our outdated information. It is normal to modify a few aspects after the dry run is completed and everyone shares notes about what needs to be changed or improved. Simulation faculty must complete dry runs before the Dress Rehearsal. 

Dress Rehearsals are practice for the SPs to get the character ready for simulation. This is typically done a week before the simulation and after all changes have been finalized.

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