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Simulated crisis within a simulated crisis a reminder of psychological safety needs

Simulated crisis within a simulated crisis a reminder of psychological safety needs

Published:06 September 2017

Members of the Human Dimensions in Simulation Committee receive the 'Best Overall Paper' award from Dr Cyle Sprick (SimHealth Scientific Convenor). Left-to-right: Dr Cyle Sprick, Dr Diane Dennis, Dr Teresa Crea, A/Prof Anjum Naweed, and Dr Cameron Knott.

Australia’s experts on simulated learning have long been aware of the need to create a psychologically safe context for learners, known as a ‘Safety Container’.

Last year, however, the need to also consider the psychological safety of simulation facilitators was driven home by a ‘simulation within a simulation’ exercise.

CQUniversity Associate Professor Anjum Naweed has won a ‘Best Overall Paper’ award at the recent 2017 Australian Simulation Congress for helping to describe the exercise and its lessons.

Members of the Human Dimensions in Simulation Committee of Simulation Australasia took part in the simulated exercise in 2016. However, no participants were aware of the extra layer of simulation.

A/Prof Naweed and his co-authors describe how the anticipated simulation of a wall collapse and building evacuation was intentionally thrown out of kilter by the building warden’s simulated heart attack and a workshop participant’s simulated panic attack. The reactions of participants were nevertheless surprising.

“The safety container workshop was impacted by a loss of control and corresponding psychological safety breach which impacted both participants and facilitators," the paper says.

Based on analysis of the facilitators' experiences, “the perception that control within the workshop had been lost was unanimous".

“The workshop transgressed nearly every tenet of the safety container metaphor, and in doing so, succeeded in conveying why the figure of speech is so relevant," the paper says.

“Simulation-based teaching is effectively about risk-taking to achieve learning outcomes, drawing on learners to have a positive attitude that carries them to the fringes of their social and intellectual boundaries.

“Simulation-based learning is often underpinned by the Vegas principle – what happens in simulation stays in simulation. This makes psychological safety even more crucial.”

Associate Professor Naweed says that the simulation managed to capture lightning in a bottle, and the findings serve as a reminder of the importance of considering the psychological safety of all attendees during simulation activities, including the faculty who administer them.