Children's Hospital Colorado

The Simulation Program at Children's Hospital Colorado

Our Mission

The mission of the Simulation Program at Children's Hospital Colorado is to promote better patient care by using innovative technologies and interactive techniques to teach essential cognitive and behavioral skills in a simulated clinical environment.

By contributing quality research to the academic community, the Simulation Program participates in a shared national effort to improve patient safety through better training of pediatric health care workers.

Our Vision

Our vision is to ensure the development and maintenance of a skilled clinician workforce by finding innovative ways to enhance access to high quality, interactive training.

Program Components

Full-Scale, Mannequin-Based Training in a Laboratory Setting

Doctors practice on mannequins in the simulation program at Children's Colorado

The Children’s Hospital Colorado Simulation Program has experienced tremendous growth in its training activities following the January 2013 opening of its 2,000 square foot, state-of-the-art Simulation Suite. The Simulation Suite houses an array of computer-driven patient simulators that allow healthcare teams to gain experience with managing common disease states,avoiding and managing errors and complications, and managing monitors and instruments used in contemporary healthcare settings. Each course offered by the Simulation Program includes facilitated, video-based after-event reviews and emphasizes techniques for building and maintaining effective interprofessional team structures.

Innovative Courses Offered

Principles of Crisis Resource Management (CRM Team Training)
In 2015, over 1200 physicians, registered nurses, respiratory therapists, pharmacists, and other disciplines took part in team-based training courses offered in the Simulation Lab designed to reinforce important cognitive and behavioral skills necessary to manage complex medical events. The course uses experiential learning techniques to foster behaviors that are essential to providing highly competent and well-coordinated event management. This is a 2-hour course that requires participants to manage 2 simulated clinical events. Embedded in each simulation is the expectation that participants can navigate and correctly use standard bedside and emergency equipment, such as oxygen delivery devices, medication delivery devices, vascular access devices and the standardized CHCO “code cart.” This course differs from the traditional “mock code” sessions in that the instructor is not present in the room with the participants, each participant must join in actively managing the patient using fully functional equipment, and participants are provided with robust feedback on their performance in a post-event, facilitated team debriefing featuring video playback from the simulated event.

Critical Care Boot Camp for Fellows

An annual curriculum developed by Shannon Buckvold, MD from the Heart Institute

Pediatric Dentistry

Bi-annual simulated course offerings for Pediatric Dentistry Residents and Dental Clinic Staff developed by Jeffrey Young, DDS. In addition, Dr. Young conducts a Medical Emergency Simulation Course annually for the Metro Denver Dental Society.

Family Ventilator Care Training

Family ventilator care training in the simulation program at Children's Colorado

As part of a structured discharge process with Breathing Institute team members, families participate in a two-hour video-taped simulation session. During the session, they experience two crisis-type scenarios and respond using the training they have been provided. The simulation experience is followed by a debriefing session with a trained educator.

Mobile ("In situ") Simulation

Children's Colorado uses in situ simulation to foster refinement of human performance during realistic events that are staged in the actual clinical setting. For "in situ" simulations, our simulation specialists bring one or more human patient simulators out of the laboratory to a patient care area within the hospital. These simulations are designed to identify and address barriers to optimal clinician and team performance in specific practice settings.

Children's Colorado has used in situ simulation to assess the operational readiness of its new Maternal Fetal Care Unit, and uses it to prepare new Critical Care and Cardiology fellows or midlevel providers to handle common emergency scenarios. New projects are developed on a regular basis.

Personal Computer (PC) and Web-Based Simulation

Children's Colorado is proud to be the first Children's Hospital in the United States to offer on-demand, interactive practice in Pediatric Advanced Life Support using an innovative simulator that is accessible through the hospital intranet*.

All healthcare workers affiliated with Children's Colorado can access the simulator on any computer terminal within the hospital, or from outside the hospital through the secure virtual private network (VPN). This unique simulator serves as a supplement to existing American Heart Association PALS training materials, and is designed to facilitate maintenance of competency in the key cognitive aspects of pediatric resuscitation.

This simulator displays a cardiac rhythm monitor as well as dynamic, photorealistic images of the simulated patient and the resuscitators. The operator directs the resuscitators to perform clinical interventions by using a computer mouse or touchpad. This simulator has an automated, intelligent debriefing system that generates a detailed commentary on interventions made curing the case, and assigns a numeric score for overall performance. Case records are downloadable to a location of the operator's choice.

* Schwid HA and Ventre KM. PALS Simulator, version 8. Issaquah, WA: Anesoft Corporation, 2010.

Our Collaboration with The University of Colorado's Work, Education, and Lifelong Learning Simulation ("WELLS") Center and the Center for Advancing Professional Excellence ("CAPE")

The University of Colorado is fortunate to have two dedicated simulation facilities on the Anschutz Medical Campus, the WELLS Center and CAPE. The Simulation Program maintains an active collaboration with both centers to develop and implement large-scale simulation initiatives with the potential to impact healthcare workers from multiple medical specialties across campus.

Our three facilities have recently collaborated on a project designed to assess the operational readiness of the new Maternal Fetal Care Unit at Children's Colorado. We also collaborated with adult Anesthesia/Critical Care faculty from the University of Colorado Hospital to develop a new, simulation-enhanced Fundamentals of Critical Care Support course that has been certified by the Society of Critical Care Medicine. This project was supported by a University of Colorado Clinical Effectiveness and Patient Safety Grant.

Research is a vital part of our mission.

Selected recent publications:

Ventre KM, Barry JS, Davis D, Baiamonte VL, Wentworth AC, Pietras M, Coughlin L, Barley G. Using In-Situ Simulation to Evaluate Operational Readiness of a Children's Hospital-Based Obstetrical Unit. Simulation in Healthcare 6:2011 [abstract; in press].

Wathen B, Albietz J, Rosengren A, Buckvold S, Redmond D, Dobronyi C, Bacino D, Beazer F, Young L, Dobyns E. From Simulation to DCD: Implementing a Pediatric DCD Program. Crit Care Med 2010 38; 12 (Suppl), A725.

Ventre KM, Collingridge DS, DeCarlo D. End-User Evaluations of a PC-based Pediatric Advanced Life Support Simulator. Simulation in Healthcare, 2011 6(3): 134-142.

Contact us

Children's Hospital Colorado Simulation Program
Program Manager: Whitney Smith, RN, MSN Email:
Address: 13123 East 16th Avenue, Aurora, CO 80045