April 28, 2023

NICU Simulation Lab Opening Doors to a Future Full of Possibilities

Just as we don’t expect pilots to learn critical skills to navigate various environments and situations at 35,000 feet, simulation is an important tool for our medical teams.

Donor support ensures our teams are ready for the most routine to the most complex situations before they happen!

The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Foothills Medical Centre is the only Level 3 NICU serving southern Alberta, meaning they care for the sickest and tiniest newborns. It is located on the fifth floor of the main building where incredible work is being done each and every day. And it is where you will find the newly opened NICU Simulation Lab. The Simulation Lab is a key training facility designed to support our NICU interprofessional team to care for the smallest and most critically ill newborns and their families.

“Working with a newborn whose skin is too fragile to touch, whose lungs are incredibly underdeveloped and who weighs as much as a block of butter requires that the NICU teams are at their absolute best every minute of every day.” – Medical team member

At Foothills, an interprofessional simulation committee is working behind the scenes to ensure their NICU team has access to a robust and effective simulation program along with a safe space to train without any risk of harm to real patients. This program will ensure timely training and access to resources to enable continued excellence in patient care and ongoing team training. Their mission is to be world-class leaders in neonatal interprofessional simulation for education, team training, systems-based design and learning, and the continuous improvement of patient and family-centered care across the continuum to enhance outcomes. In fact, everything they do comes back to the patients and families who they serve.

The Lab is already in high demand and scheduled with teams proactively honing their skills on a regular basis. The training opportunities for staff are diverse from ‘just-in-time’ scenarios where the whole team can be pulled together to work through a situation before it actually happens; to outreach initiatives providing simulation training to centers outside of Calgary. In addition, the simulation lab is being used for frontline simulation to improve communication and teamwork skills through deliberate practice and debriefing. It is also a space for faculty development in simulation facilitation for the NICU team. To ensure impact for years to come, this space will also be used for testing of new processes, research, innovation, and identification and mitigation of potential issues well in advance of implementation using simulation methods.

More than 40 donor and stakeholder participants were on hand when the doors officially opened to the new space to understand the opportunities that will be available to the team. The NICU team is extremely grateful for all contributions to their simulation program!

FMC NICU Simulation Committee members: Dr. Martin Perlsteyn, Andrea Faid, Mirette Dube, Dr. Ashley Blagdon, Dr. Elsa Fiedrich, Renee Paul, Julie McKanna, Dr. Prashanth Murthy, Jennessa Noort, Barb Korencik, Chelsea O’Keefe, Mayleen Woo, Kirby Davis, Amber Appleyard, Bryan Rombough, and Kevin Orton.

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