By Gerald Sonnenberg,
EES Marketing and Communication



Start for the construction for the VHA SimLEARN National Simulation Center (NSC), was recognized Sept. 4 with a special groundbreaking ceremony. The facility is being constructed on the campus of the new Orlando VA Medical Center, located in Lake Nona’s Medical City.

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SimLEARN and EES leadership prepare to turn the dirt for construction of the new VHA SimLEARN National Simulation Center. (Photo, left to right) Phil Hargreaves, Simulation Associate Director for REdI Program; Harry Robinson, SimLEARN National Program Manager; Wilson Ariza, SimLEARN Associate Director for Training; Manny Dominguez, EES Deputy Chief Learning Officer; Dr. Haru Okuda, SimLEARN National Medical Director; Louise Van Diepen, former VHA Chief Learning Officer; Dr. Lygia Arcaro, SimLEARN National Director for Nursing Programs; Jim Warner, VHA Chief Learning Officer and acting Assistant Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Workforce Services; and Leslie Dubow, SimLEARN Associate Director for Gaming. (VA photo by Gerald Sonnenberg)

Harry Robinson, SimLEARN national program manager and the event’s emcee, welcomed nearly 100 guests and staff to the event. Special guests included U.S. Senator Bill Nelson of-Florida; U.S. Representative Daniel Webster from Florida’s 10th District; and Alan Grayson, whose 9th District is the location of the facility; several local community leaders and a variety of other representatives and guests, including VHA Chief Learning Officer and acting Assistant Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Workforce Services Jim Warner. Nelson, Grayson and Webster briefly addressed the audience. The keynote speaker for the event was Timothy W. Liezert, director of the Orlando VA Medical Center.

The SimLEARN program utilizes a train-the-trainer model to quickly and efficiently prepare a cadre of qualified instructors who can, in turn, deliver world-class simulation-based clinical training at their respective field VA sites, using standardized curricula and equipment. The current NSC is located in leased space with two small simulation rooms. The new 52,000-square-foot facility will have at least 10 classrooms and will be able to accommodate up to 160 students at a time. Construction is expected to take approximately 15 months.

The new center will serve as the operational hub for coordination of all national VA simulation-based clinical training activities. The facility will provide an immersive training environment by replicating actual patient treatment areas, including an outpatient clinic setting, an inpatient/hospital setting with an intensive care unit, an operating room and more. Video recording of training will take place for classroom review, and multipurpose classrooms will have reconfigurable walls to provide a number of room settings.

The location of the National Simulation Center, with its close proximity to other large clinical, educational and research facilities, will provide enhanced opportunities for collaborations and research in new clinical simulation technologies and methods.

SimLEARN is a national program for advancing clinical simulation training, education and research across VHA. The program is a collaborative effort of VHA’s Employee Education System, Office of Patient Care Services and Office of Nursing Services program offices.