Part Two: How to Get Soul if Your lab doesn’t have it

Note: I spent nine years as a critical care manager coaching staff for peak performance during crisis situations, and I know a thing or two about psychomotor skills performance under pressure (which we’ll get to in a future blog). If your educational practice does not incorporate elements of sports psychology, you are missing the boat. We want our team to win and our players to love the sport.

Yesterday the blog entry here was titled “Does your Simulation Program have “Soul?” and it was a teaser. I just laid out  the problem but didn’t offer the solutions. In the education business this is called “creating the need to know”  – It’s like catching mice. When the mice are hungry enough, even the worst cheese is alluring and irresistible.

Um, maybe not the best metaphor. My professional colleagues are not laboratory specimens running a maze. The point being, I know I am not the best writer – let’s focus on the aromatic cheese (me) , not the mouse (you) per se. Words sometimes fail me but I still try to speak my truth.

And – it was a joke.

Floor Plan and square footage

So the first set of solutions to developing a heart and soul for your sim program/lab is in the physical layout. If you look back at yesterday’s blog I was pointing out things that could have been mitigated with better design and more space. Now, space is a problem when a sim lab and/or skills lab is retrofitted into a previously existing space. But – there does need to be adequate waiting area and closet space.

I’m told there is a specialized architectural firm that houses a specific team to design these “state-of-the-art” labs everybody is trying to have.

Think of the actual sim room, or even the actual skills lab, as if it were a ride at Disneyworld, or perhaps a room in an O.R. suite. There needs to be a place for the next batch to wait, and a room at the exit doors for the previous batch to exit. The room gets turned over for the next batch. The ideal is to have a de-briefing room right next to the actual sim room; but if you need quick turnover it’s actually better for each group to exit the area when their scenario is completed.

tip: If you are in a cold climate, expect that the students will wear a winter jacket, they will need to hang it up, along with boots and book backpacks.

If the lab is so tightly scheduled that groups of students need to wait outside and then flood  in as soon as the class time begins, you need to think about the waiting area. tip: Give them chairs. Designate a staging area nearby. You may think this is obvious, but it’s not. given a choice between students sitting on the floor versus a cluttered hallway, I’d be happy with clutter.

“A well organized desk is a sign of a cluttered mind”

I have now seen a number of labs where they simply didn’t design enough closet and storage space, or it’s not efficiently done. You can’t wait to set up a lab event by beginning at the start of class time.

The logistical chain goes like this:

The students arrive > the equipment is there and the disposables are too > the class happens > the process is repeated for the next “performance” with a new audience. Maybe the same equipment and disposables, maybe a different performance altogether.  Dos it sound too basic? may be for you it will, but maybe a new faculty never really thought about it before.

Failing to execute logistics is like waiting until the code starts before you stock the crash cart. From the beginning, effective lab management needs to build in the prep time and a system. tip: think of the supply logistics the way an O.R. nurse would. In late afternoon, You look at the cases for the following day, and pull the equipment needed, placing it on a rolling exchange cart. tip: don’t overbuild shelving for storage. exchange carts give you a more flexible system.

Eye Candy from Johns Hopkins

This YouTube was going around a week or two ago, and it showed JHU doing the “#mannequinchallenge  I would point out several things. First, the JHU Dean has enough of a sense of humor to make a cameo appearance at 1:42. Next, each little tableau is posing for a different activity (you would never have all of these things happening simultaneously even if they were on drugs, which they are obviously not). Thirdly, I suspect they have “soul” down there…..  to me, the video implied a sense of giddy fun. The best way to learn.

tip: every time you can think of a way to have the students “own” the lab, implement it. If a student shows up early before the first class of the day – let them in, and engage them in assisting you setting things up.  You are modeling planning skills when you let them in on the secret. tip: At the end of a session? always end the content delivery five minutes early so the students clean it up, not you. Your energy should be directed toward preparing for the next class, not cleaning up after the previous one. You as lab manager are need to focus on finding ways to create, not simply do the laundry or clean up after the event. Having said that, there does need to be a system to put stuff away so it will be in ready condition when it is next retrieved. tip: at the end of each session, thank everyone who helped do the behind-the-scenes with you. Or even during the session you can ask them to stand and get a round of applause. (Yes, groups are often inhibited from doing any “spirit” things – but time to break that expectation and create a new one. Being willing to create positive motivation in this way is a behavior that will carry  over into clinical practice and become just as critical there as sterile technique).

I think this is enough for today. If you have tips to add please make a comment.

Tomorrow is part three

Tomorrow I will write more about ways to get “soul” and create a love of sim and a love of lab. If your students seem to dread a psychomotor session, never fear! the secrets will be revealed! Be sure to subscribe to this blog to make sure you don’t miss anything. Also, if you have faculty who don’t get it in terms of how to use lab to revolutionize attitudes, feel free to forward this to them….why not!?!??!?!!







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