Back in the mid-2000s, the idea of using simulation to help train health care professionals was starting to gain some traction. Royal College leadership was an early investor in this domain, building a brain trust of knowledge and expertise in this emerging area. Fast-forward to present and the field of medical simulation training has exploded.
The Royal College is one of only three organizations in the world that accredit medical simulation programs both nationally and internationally. We’re also the only one who focuses exclusively on standard-setting.
Why accredit simulation centres?
“We knew that people were going to be having resources to dedicate towards simulation. We knew that they would need to have relationships with industry. We knew there was going to be great need for faculty development,” said Dr. Susan Brien, FRCSC, director of Practice and Systems Innovation at the Royal College.
“We thought that bringing together experts and creating standards and an accreditation process would help us increase capacity in Canada for the utilization and integration of simulation modalities into professional training programs.”
What do we mean by “simulation”?
Simulation, for the purposes of training health professionals, can include several modalities:
- Virtual patients or some type of online, interactive educational experience that involves a computer and decision-making.
- Technology-enhanced learning (e.g. the application of some type of mannequin, virtual reality system, cadaver, animal or another object to experience part of the critical engagement with learners).
- Standardized patients.
Simulation programs can include one or more of these subtypes.
Extending the medical simulation community
Dr. Brien says the principal reason why simulation programs want to be accredited by the Royal College is because this process legitimizes the work and effort they are putting towards the use of simulation in their context.
“It is a very coach-mentorship type of process, not a checklist. When we go there and say, for example, you need to have better resources for X or you need to have a policy around Y, it gives them a great amount of leverage to work with both their universities and hospitals to try and attain this.”
Royal College: Simulation program accreditation
31 — Number of Royal College standards for the accreditation of simulation programs.
12 — Average number of months to complete the accreditation process
11 — Number of Canadian programs that have been accredited
3 or 5 — Number of years the accreditation is valid (determined by level of compliance)
1 — Number of international programs that have been accredited
Our simulation accreditation standards were created by a group of experts about seven years ago. Since simulation pulls from the cutting-edge of technology, standards and centres need to be reassessed over time. Most centres are accredited for a period of five years. In Canada, 11 programs have been accredited by the Royal College so far with half a dozen more currently exploring the possibility.
“We want to encourage collaboration and research, not competition, so we’ve made that part of standards. Everyone has to be doing some type of scholarship, whether leading or collaborating with other centres. It’s an interesting way of using standards to actually encourage and leverage collaborations for research,” she said.
Thrilled to announce our 1st internationally accredited sim program: The Clinical Skills & Simulation Centre at King Abdulaziz University.
This year, we accredited our first international simulation program: the Clinical Skills & Simulation Center at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. This program is directed by Dr. Abdulaziz Boker, who did his postgraduate training in Anesthesiology in Canada.
“We were actually able to bring together the Canadian simulation community and first ask them how they felt about bringing on international partners. I think they’re very excited to be able to expand the community globally,” said Dr. Brien. “The standards are the same, even though the context in which they’re placed may be different. Having the same standards is very important for building that community.”
Learn more about our work in simulation-based education and program accreditation services. Read about our Practice, Performance and Innovation unit.