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New Faculty Simulation Onboarding

By: Alaina Herrington

When I became a simulation coordinator, I had no prior simulation experience. Like most simulation novices, I dove into the literature and went to as many conferences as I could. My task was to open a simulation center with 13 different programs and approximately 1000 students, but I quickly realized my biggest challenge was going to be faculty buy-in and education. At the time, the faculty had very limited simulation knowledge. What could I do with little to no funding for education?

Here’s what I decided to do:

With a core group of faculty from 5 of the 13 programs of study, I piloted a faculty development course. All faculty were required to take online module training from the University of Washington, Center for Health Science Interprofessional Education, Research and Practice prior to participation. In addition, the faculty attended a full-day development workshop focused on writing scenarios, running scenarios, and debriefing a simulation (educational table example).

Since that first faculty simulation development course, our department has expanded to a formal faculty onboarding process. All faculty involved in simulation are required to participate in an initial Simulation Basic Institute course and an annual Simulation Refresher Institute course. Some of the challenges I have faced with these courses are the following: limited faculty release time, faculty follow-through with assignments, and scheduling conflicts.

To overcome these challenges, I recently developed an online refresher course. Faculty will work on the course when their schedules allow and turn in assignments before progressing to the next portion of the course.

We also established a mentorship program at our school. I adopted this idea from a conference presentation from several years ago that was recently published (Peterson, Watts, Epps, & White, 2017). In our tiered mentorship program, faculty earn the title Sim Expert as their own experience grows and they mentor other faculty members. As a special incentive, Sim Experts are awarded a jeweled lapel pin (picture) by the Simulation Center upon completion of each process of the Sim Expert Program. The jewel color signifies the status level of the expert. Faculty may also officially include this title on their CVs.

Here are some of the lessons I have learned:

  1. Perform an annual faculty educational assessment.
  2. Provide CEUs for all educational offerings.
  3. Reward faculty in some way.

Organizations implement faculty onboarding in many ways. I would love to hear what you are doing in the comments section of this post.


Peterson, D.T., Watts, P.I., Epps, C.A., & White, M.L. (2017). Simulation faculty development. Simulation in Healthcare, 12(4), 254-259.

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