Children's Hospital Colorado

Medical Simulation Program

The Simulation Program provides medical simulation services to Children’s Hospital Colorado and pediatric residents to advance patient safety and quality improvement initiatives across our hospital locations.

Our program continues to experience tremendous growth serving over 9,000 learners since the opening of our 2,000 square foot, state-of-the-art simulation suite in January 2013.

In addition to our primary curriculum of Crisis Resource Management (CRM) Team Training and high-fidelity simulation, each year we introduce more innovative modalities in simulation education. We use rapid cycle deliberate practice techniques as a highly effective instructional method for our pediatric residents to train in code management and team communication. Standardized actors and/or patients have also been incorporated as one of the most powerful learning experiences for advanced communication science for our critical care fellows, nurses and advanced providers.

“As we embark on a new decade of learning, we reflect on the impact of our commitment to continuous learning, which is in effect, touching the lives of our patients every day.” – Whitney S. Smith, Simulation Lab Program Manager

Medical simulation program offerings

Full-scale, mannequin-based training in a laboratory setting

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The Simulation Suite at Children’s Colorado houses an array of computer-driven patient simulators that allow healthcare teams to:

  • Gain experience with managing common disease states
  • Avoid and manage errors and complications
  • Manage monitors and instruments used in contemporary healthcare settings

Each course offered by the Simulation Lab Program includes facilitated, video-based after-event reviews and emphasizes techniques for building and maintaining effective interprofessional team structures.

Innovative courses

Principles of Crisis Resource Management Team Training

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

Since the start of our program, over 10000 physicians, registered nurses, respiratory therapists, pharmacists and other disciplines have taken part in team-based training courses designed to reinforce important cognitive and behavioral skills necessary to manage complex medical events. This crisis resource management (CRM) course uses experiential learning techniques to foster behaviors that are essential to providing highly competent and well-coordinated event management.

CRM training is a two-hour course that requires participants to manage two 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 Children’s Colorado “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. 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

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The annual Critical Care Boot Camp is a two-day, multiple modality and immersive course for first year critical care, cardiology, emergency medicine and anesthesiology fellows. This advanced skills training using state-of-the-art task trainers include but is not limited to central line placement, difficult airway management, pacemaker defibrillator and management. Didactic sessions offered by some of Children’s Colorado’s top faculty specialists in arrhythmia management, difficult conversations and advanced pathophysiology are complemented by high-fidelity, multidisciplinary simulation sessions followed by video-guided debriefings. Standardized actors/patients from the University of Colorado’s Center for Advancing Professional Excellence (CAPE) simulation program are utilized for difficult conversation simulation sessions.

Pediatric dentistry courses

We offer a biannual, multidisciplinary, dental clinic emergency and sedation management simulation course highlighting effective team leading and medical management strategies for pediatric dentistry residents and dental clinic staff.

Family ventilator care training

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As part of a structured discharge process with Breathing Institute team members, families participate in a two-hour realistic simulation session as part of an overall process for a successful discharge home. During the session, they experience two crisis-type scenarios and respond using the training they have received. The simulation experience is followed by a debriefing session with a trained educator.

Mobile ("in situ") simulation

We use in situ simulation to foster refinement of human performance during realistic events that are staged in the actual clinical setting. For in situ simulations, or in the actual clinical setting, our simulation specialists bring one or more human patient simulators out of the laboratory to a patient care area within the hospital. After the simulation is complete, a formally trained simulation facilitator leads a debriefing session. These simulations are designed to identify and address barriers to optimal clinician and team performance in specific practice settings.

We have used in situ simulation to assess the operational readiness of a new Maternal Fetal Care Unit. We also use in situ simulation to prepare new critical care and cardiology fellows or midlevel providers to handle common emergency scenarios. New projects are developed on a regular basis in collaboration with our project management, patient safety and clinical teams.

Our collaboration with Anschutz Medical Campus Simulation Collaborative

The University of Colorado is fortunate to have several dedicated simulation programs on the Anschutz Medical Campus, including UCHealth, Rocky Mountain VA Medical Center and University of Colorado School of Medicine’s CAPE. The Simulation Lab Program maintains an active collaboration with these centers to develop and implement large-scale simulation initiatives with the potential to impact healthcare workers from multiple medical specialties across campus.

Sim Wars medical simulation event

Behind the theming, costumes and fanfare, Sim Wars is an edutainment event with a big purpose  giving our team members the knowledge and skills they need to provide the best patient care. Each year, teams across our system of care come together to participate and to celebrate what simulations do for not only healthcare, but for our team members and our patients. Learn more about Sim Wars below.

Contact us

Children's Hospital Colorado Simulation Program
Medical Director: Chris Nichols, MD
Program Manager: Whitney Smith, RN, MSN, CHSE