What do you want to become?
Healthcare Simulation Technology Specialist
Alternate Career Titles: Simulation Technician, Healthcare Simulation Operations Specialist, Sim Tech
Career Overview: Provides technical support for all simulation technology operations within a simulation program.
Career Salary Range: $45,000 to $75,000
Estimated Years of Schooling Required: 4 to 6
Required Minimum Degree/License: Associate’s Degree Required, Bachelor’s or above preferred.
Become a Healthcare Simulation Technology Specialist
A Healthcare Simulation Technology Specialist works to implement, develop, participate in and operate simulation activities to guarantee a safe, high-quality and consistent simulation experience. They are also responsible for assisting in the management of a center’s infrastructure to ensure that student privacy, operational efficiency, limited downtime and learning objectives are all met.
“With my background in theater, I see being a Sim Tech like taking on all the roles needed for a stage production: stage manager, actor, prop master, costumer, makeup artist, set designer, lighting technician and even audience member,” Ryan Eling, a Simulation Technology Specialist who practices in Maine, said. “There are a wide variety of skills that Sim Techs need to have at least some exposure and experience with, from makeup work to information technology to educational pedagogy.”
Healthcare Simulation Technology Specialists will also troubleshoot and resolve any technical and logistical issues, and operate simulation capture system to ensure activities are videotaped. Other responsibilities of these professionals include: providing first and second level repairs and preventative maintenance to simulation resources; ensuring that equipment and supplies are used and maintained properly; planning, developing and manufacturing materials and techniques for executing moulage and task trainers; and maintaining current simulation related knowledge, communications and customer service.
“Being a Sim Tech is definitely a ‘jack of all trades, master of some’ type of career. That is what is exciting and terrifying about the role,” Eling explained.
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Education & Training
To become a Healthcare Simulation Technology Specialist, professionals are minimally required to have an associate’s degree, but a Bachelor’s Degree is highly recommended. Those that possess 3 to 5 years of healthcare simulation experience will find themselves very desirable as the profession is so new! Certification as a Certified Healthcare Simulation Technology Specialist (CHSOS) in this field is also strongly preferred.
Eling added that, although education is valuable, he feels that an appropriate mindset also has a lot to do with success in this field. Ultimately, he noted that this mindset includes a curiosity about how things work, a dedication to ever-improving systems and a willingness to work closely with a team.
“Again I do think that a workshop or two about simulation theory and experiential education practice can provide a valuable perspective on how the Sim Tech role fits within the healthcare education team,” Eling noted. SimGHOSTS, aka The Gathering of Healthcare Simulation Technology Specialists, is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting those entering the field — and is a great place to start looking for such educational workshops.
“Advancing a Simulation Technology Specialist career is a significant challenge, as it is still a mysterious role that few employers understand,” Eling explained. “The best way to advance your career is to get involved with interprofessional teams, submitting abstracts to simulation conferences and get involved with online forums on sites like SimGHOSTS.org and SSiH.org.”
Eling added that centers all over the world need help with the technical aspects of simulation education, and therefore a professional’s voice can be heard via the internet which may lead to both connections and opportunities. Furthermore, based upon performance, increased experience and need, a qualified Healthcare Simulation Technology Specialist could advance to positions such as the Director of a simulation center or the Director of Technology.
Experience & Skills
To be successful in this role, professionals should possess excellent customer service orientation and demonstrate adaptability in terms of supporting clients with a wide range of experience with simulation concepts and exposure. Additionally, Healthcare Simulation Technology Specialists should have strong interpersonal and communications skills, as well as the ability to stay organized, on-track and focused.
Troubleshooting and teamwork skills, thoroughness and resourcefulness are also integral to this position. Furthermore, many employers seek Healthcare Simulation Technology Specialists who are able to operate Microsoft Office products, and A/V equipment and IT networking. Specialized knowledge in patient simulators like those from Laerdal or CAE Healthcare, along with A/V recording systems like EMS SimulationIQ or SimStation are also highly recommended.
“You need to have a technical mind to be a Sim Tech. That means you can look at a system (computer, simulator, process, medical equipment, etc.) and understand its operation in a logical way,” Eling said. “You can take a system apart, physically or theoretically, and diagnose problems or inefficiencies.”
He added that the work of a Healthcare Simulation Technology Specialist is about constant refinement, and that professionals in this career need to be scientific, able to analyze, hypothesize, test and implement. Additionally, Eling explained that a Simulation Operations Specialist cannot be strictly tech-focused, because simulation education is by definition a collaborative affair. Therefore, these professionals must have high emotional intelligence excellent communication skills and excessive patience.
“Finally, a Sim Tech needs to be cool under pressure. Technology will fail, students will try surprising interventions and faculty will get stressed, but the Sim Tech needs to be able to take it in stride and know how to calm tense situations down,” Eling said. “Sim Techs should not be high strung!”
“Sim Techs should be curious, patient, creative, logical and people-loving,” Eling said.
In this role, professionals should also enjoy acting as a resource to other staff members and healthcare professionals. Furthermore, Sim Techs should be able to work well under challenging situations and come to result-driven conclusions. Those technical minded who would rather work directly and only with technology should consider other careers, as many techs are required to not only operate such equipment but encourage and help non-technical faculty to operate it as well.
Although most Healthcare Simulation Technology Specialists work full-time, during “normal” (8 am to 5 pm) weekday hours, this position can require occasional availability outside the normal work day.
“Sim Techs live a life of constant change and adjustment. Never a dull moment, but also always in motion,” Eling said. “Every semester, month and day things will change and techs have to adapt.” Some flexibility may be required as the position must work around educational and training schedules which may change throughout the year.
While many Healthcare Simulation Technology Specialists are employed by education centers, others are employed at healthcare systems. Those already working in healthcare systems may find their programs need help starting or developing further. This includes organizations like EMS, Fire Services, Military Groups and more. All-in-all, simulation is a relatively unknown field and the key to success is hard work, enthusiasm and drive.
“If you already work in education, try and shadow or visit a sim center affiliated with your institution. If you are coming from the outside, I would encourage trying to get tours at local sim centers and get to meet the staff,” Eling advised. “If you have the flexibility, I cannot imagine many centers would turn away someone who wanted to volunteer, and that could lead to employment.”
Depending on the employer and a professional’s experience level, Healthcare Simulation Technology Specialists can earn between $45,000 and $75,000 annually. According to Eling, compensation varies from employer to employer.
“I would not let pay fuel your desire to get Sim Tech work,” Eling stressed. “It is most definitely a passion career, and if your heart’s in it, go for it!”
Unions, Groups and Associations
SimGHOSTS, aka The Gathering of Healthcare Simulation Technology Specialists, is the leading resource organization and event for those specifically focused on operating simulation technologies. SimGHOSTS began in 2011 out of the Clinical Simulation Center of Las Vegas, and now puts on events and online resources for thousands of Sim Techs around the world. It is the best place to start for those considering a career as a Healthcare Simulation Technology Specialist. “SimGHOSTS.org is a great resource and community,” added Eling.
The Society for Simulation in Healthcare (SSH) was established in 2004 by professionals using simulation for education, testing, and research in health care. The purpose of SSH is to serve a global community of practice enhancing the quality of healthcare. Additionally, SSH fosters the improvement and application of simulation–based modalities such as human patient simulators, virtual reality, standardized patients and task trainers.
Association for Simulated Practice in Healthcare (ASPiH) is a not-for-profit membership Association dedicated to improving patient care and professional performance by the use of simulated practice and technology enhanced learning, based out of the UK. If you work within the NHS, or other medical organization within the UK — this organization is a must!
- Research the role
- Attend a Healthcare Simulation Technology Specialist workshop
- Career shadow for gain volunteer experience
- Pursue necessary education requirements
- Establish connections within the field
All statistics are provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Meet the professional: Ryan Eling
Practice: University of New England
Location: Portland, Maine
What is the single biggest suggestion you would give to someone wanting to get into this career?
“Make connections with people already in the role or working in simulation education.”
Why did you choose to become a Healthcare Simulation Technology Specialist?
“I have ‘restless career syndrome,’ and Sim Tech work is thankfully varied enough that it scratches all my professional itches: education, technology, teamwork, process improvement and analysis. I didn’t really choose to become a Sim Tech…the role chose me.”
What’s the number one mistake people make when trying to get into this career?
“It is a mistake when people with an IT background try and jump into simulation work. It is so much more than setting up servers and troubleshooting Windows errors.”
What is the question people should ask about this career but rarely do?
“‘What can my experience add to the Sim Tech field?’”
If you could describe in one word what makes you successful, what would it be?
- Society for Simulation in Healthcare (USA)