Dr. Barry Issenberg Named President of the Society for Simulation in Healthcare

Article Summary
  • Dr. Barry Issenberg, a leader in healthcare simulation for 25 years and director of the Miller School’s Gordon Center for Simulation and Innovation in Medical Education, has been named Society for Simulation in Healthcare president.
  • As president, Dr. Issenberg will expand SSH’s role in serving the global practice community and ensure SSH’s growing membership is reflected in its diversity of backgrounds and ideas.
  • Dr. Issenberg sees data as a key component of simulation, saying analytics helps design effective simulation scenarios and can identify gaps in skills and knowledge.

Barry Issenberg, M.D., director of the Gordon Center for Simulation and Innovation in Medical Education at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, has been named the 2024-2025 president of the Society for Simulation in Healthcare. Under his leadership, the Gordon Center has become a national leader in simulation technology, providing real-world training experiences to nearly 20,000 health care professionals, students, service members emergency responders annually.

Dr. Issenberg, who is also the Michael S. Gordon Chair of Medical Education, took time to speak about the goals of his presidency, the impact of simulation on the future of medical education and health care.

Dr. Barry Issenberg with three students during a simulation at the Gordon Center
As director of the Gordon Center for Simulation and Innovation in Medical Education, Dr. Barry Issenberg (in white coat) oversees the education of more than 20,000 healthcare professionals every year.

What does it mean to you personally and professionally to receive such an honor?

My journey with the society has been enriching, encompassing various roles that have provided me with a comprehensive understanding of its mission. This experience has fostered my commitment to servant leadership, ensuring a holistic view and a team-based, consensus-building approach essential for effectively serving our membership.

Over recent years, my senior leadership roles at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine have broadened my understanding of the diverse needs, challenges and opportunities inherent in collaborating with professionals across all levels, disciplines and specialties. My concurrent appointments as professor of nursing and health studies and professor of medical education have deepened my experience and highlighted the criticality of interdisciplinary teamwork in education and training. These roles have involved collaborations with colleagues in nursing, engineering and the humanities.

In every leadership position, I have striven to promote diversity of thought, cultivate a culture of trust and inclusion, prioritize the needs of others and encourage the development and advancement of leadership skills in my team. Currently, as senior associate dean for research in medical education, I am honored to also serve as director of the Michael Gordon Center for Simulation and Innovation in Medical Education. The Center, a founding supporter of the society, stands as a testament to our commitment to advancing simulation in healthcare.

What is the theme of your presidency and what do you hope to accomplish?

My vision for leading the Society for Simulation in Healthcare builds upon the foundations laid by the current officers and Board of Directors. It focuses on expanding the society’s role in serving the global practice community to enhance healthcare quality. This vision requires a mindful and direct approach to ensure SSH’s growing membership is reflected in its diversity of backgrounds and ideas. An inclusive society upholds the highest standards and ethics and provides equal opportunities to all members.

To realize the society’s ambitious goals, I advocate for a transdisciplinary approach to propel research and innovation while fostering education, professional growth and leadership development among our members. In a world of increasing complexity and dynamic challenges, the society must play a pivotal role in addressing and solving issues identified over the past quarter-century. This includes exploring how simulation can lead to improved patient safety and healthcare quality.

Dr. Barry Issenberg
Barry Issenberg, M.D., has been named president of the Society for Simulation in Healthcare.

What are key factors in enabling simulation to impact patient care?

Extending simulation-based health care education from simulation centers to real-world health care delivery and patient outcomes complements biomedical and clinical translational science. Achieving this requires the society to strengthen strategic collaborations with traditional healthcare academia partners and build new relationships with key national and international governmental and non-governmental organizations, as well as industry partners from education, technology and health care sectors.

We must integrate simulation more seamlessly into health professions education and practice, ensuring broader access to technology for learners and providers. It’s crucial to examine how simulation centers can support the missions of health professions schools and both academic and non-academic health systems. In doing so, simulation’s potential to significantly impact patient care is greatly amplified.

How has technology impacted simulation in health care?

Advances in technology have enabled the creation of highly realistic and detailed simulators. These range from full-body manikins that can mimic human physiology and responses to virtual reality (VR) environments that replicate complex medical scenarios.

The increased realism enhances the learning experience, allowing healthcare professionals to practice skills in a lifelike yet controlled environment. In addition, modern simulators are equipped with sensors and software that collect data on user performance. This data can be analyzed to provide feedback, assess skills and identify areas for improvement. It also contributes to research in medical education and patient care.

With the advent of online and mobile platforms, simulation training has become more accessible. E-learning modules, mobile apps and web-based simulations can reach a wider audience, making it easier to train healthcare professionals in remote or underserved areas. Technology also allows simulations to be tailored to individual learning needs. Simulation scenarios can be adjusted based on the learner’s skill level, specialty and learning objectives, making the training more effective and efficient.

Finally, advances in telecommunications and remote technologies have enabled tele-simulation, where learners can engage in simulation training remotely. This is particularly valuable for distance learning and for providing training in areas with limited resources.

What are some of the technological advances that have changed simulation for healthcare professionals and how do you foresee technology changing your professional world in the future?

Virtual Reality immerses users in a fully simulated environment, ideal for practicing surgical techniques or emergency responses. Augmented Reality overlays digital information onto the real world, aiding in procedures like guided surgery or anatomical education. AI and machine learning are being used to create adaptive learning environments that respond to the individual user’s performance.

These systems can provide personalized feedback and adjust scenarios to challenge and support learners appropriately. AI could evolve to not just respond to learners’ actions but also predict and prevent potential mistakes in real-time, enhancing both training efficacy and patient safety.

Three-D printing is increasingly being used to create anatomically accurate models for surgical planning and training. It allows for customization to patient-specific anatomy, enhancing the realism and relevance of surgical rehearsals. Wearable technology devices such as smart glasses or haptic feedback gloves can enhance simulation training as they provide a more immersive experience and can simulate the tactile feedback of medical procedures. In the future, nanotechnology and advanced robotics could provide more advanced physical simulation models, offering ultra-realistic surgical practice and potentially simulating a wider range of medical conditions.

What are some prominent challenges in health care simulation and how do you plan to confront them?

Two of the most common and longstanding challenges of health care simulation include its integration in existing curricula, measuring its effect and impact. Effectively integrating simulation into existing curricular programs can be difficult making collaboration between educators, clinical experts and administrators very important.

As with any new technology, curriculum development should be flexible, allowing for the incorporation of simulation in a manner that complements traditional teaching methods. In addition, demonstrating the impact of simulation training on clinical outcomes can be complex and implementing robust evaluation frameworks and using data analytics to assess performance and outcomes are crucial in order to conduct long-term studies linking simulation training to clinical practice improvements.

Advanced simulators and technology-based simulations can be expensive and maintaining these systems requires significant resources. Institutions can collaborate to share resources, seek funding through grants, or invest in scalable and reusable simulation tools. Utilizing more cost-effective virtual or augmented reality technologies can also reduce expenses.

Beyond the cost to obtain and maintain these systems, implementing and operating advanced simulation technology can be complex, requiring specialized skills. Investing in training for technical staff and educators is essential, as partnerships with technology providers for support and training can also be beneficial.

Because not all institutions or regions have equal access to high-quality simulation facilities, the use of mobile simulation units and remote or tele-simulation platforms and online simulation programs can enhance accessibility. This is facilitated through collaborations and networks that can help in sharing resources more broadly.

These issues often hinder the ability to ensure consistency in simulation quality and methodologies across different training sites or institutions. Developing and adhering to national and international standards and accreditation systems and regularly benchmarking and supporting peer reviews can help maintain consistency. Finally, resistance to change and skepticism about the value of simulation often hinder its adoption.

What helps is building a culture that values continuous learning and improvement. This must be complemented with evidence that demonstrates the effectiveness of simulation through research and case studies.

Tags: Dr. Barry Issenberg, Gordon Center for Simulation and Innovation, medical education, simulation-based training