A Conversation in celebration of Women’s Equality Day: Ana Paula Corrêa

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Ana Paula Corrêa is a female entrepreneur in Brazil where she founded Simula Health. A Conversation with her in celebration of Women’s Equality Day

Every year on August 26, Women’s Equality Day commemorates the date in 1920 when the U.S. 19th Amendment granted the fundamental right to vote to women. To celebrate it and promote the role of women entrepreneurs in advancing simulation growth, we conversed with Ana Paula Corrêa, a Brazilian entrepreneur who managed to make her way with a lot of drive and commitment.

Taking inspiration from her doctoral thesis, she founded and is the current CEO of Simula Health, an innovative Brazilian startup which developed a virtual healthcare training platform. Ana Paula preferred to temporarily put aside her academic career believing that the impact of her startup on healthcare education in Brazil would be much more significant and remarkable.

By highlighting Ana Paula’s story, we hope to continue to encourage future generations of young women and simulationists to break gender stereotypes and become innovators and leaders in the field of simulation.

Ana Paula Corrêa

Founder of Startup Health – the first virtual reality training solution for healthcare staff in Brazil.

PhD in Nursing from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS).

Sandwich Doctorate Abroad at the Universidad Católica San Antonio de Murcia (UCAM) – Spain, sponsored by the Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel – CAPES, through the Sandwich Doctorate Abroad Program.

Master’s and undergraduate degrees in Nursing from UFRGS.

Instructor in Clinical Simulation at Laerdal.

More than 10 years’ experience in hospitals, clinical, surgical and ICU, as a nurse at the Hospital de Clínicas de Porto Alegre (HCPA) and as a university lecturer in Administration at the UFRGS Nursing School.

Researcher in the field of patient safety and clinical simulation.





Ciao Ana Paula, thank you so much for agreeing to talk to our readers. We are happy to celebrate Women’s Equality Day hosting a female entrepreneur. First, tell us about Simula Health.

It is truly an honor to be here and share the Simula Health story on this Women’s Equality Day. While I dream of a future where entrepreneurship is celebrated without gender distinctions, I recognize the importance of occasions like this to highlight women’s achievements in the business world.

Simula Health is an innovative Brazilian startup distinguished by its virtual healthcare training platform. As a pioneer in Latin America, our platform provides a virtual hospital where healthcare professionals in training or already qualified can simulate health scenarios through virtual reality.

This training offers a practical and immersive experience, better preparing professionals for the challenges of the job market, even before interacting with real patients. We believe that technology has the potential to revolutionize healthcare professional training, ultimately leading to higher quality healthcare for all. Simula Health is committed to contributing to the empowerment and ongoing development of healthcare professionals, thereby creating a positive impact on society.

How did you come up with your business idea?

The idea for Simula Health originated from my own personal and professional experiences. As a recent nursing graduate and university lecturer, I witnessed the lack of readiness among healthcare professionals to handle real-life situations in the hospital. My inspiration grew from my doctoral thesis, which explored clinical simulation as a training method. I identified the limitations of traditional simulation approaches and recognized the opportunity to integrate technology into the healthcare sector. Through the Simula Health platform, I managed to bridge this gap by providing immersive training through virtual reality.

Technology enabled us to overcome barriers and democratize access to healthcare training, making it more efficient and scalable.

What’s the typical user for your VR solution?

Our primary target audience for Simula Health’s virtual reality solution is the healthcare professional sector in Brazil, a country with vast dimensions and complex healthcare challenges. We acknowledge that many training institutions and hospitals face limitations in establishing clinical simulation laboratories. Given this reality, our platform aims to cater to the needs of those seeking practical training before engaging with real patients, while also considering the emotional impact involved in critical health scenarios.

Virtual reality emerges as a promising solution, offering accessible, immersive, and high-quality training. It extends the reach of learning opportunities and better equips healthcare professionals to handle real-world challenges, providing a valuable tool in enhancing their skills and preparedness.

What were you doing before this, and is this your first business?

Before embarking on this entrepreneurial journey, I was and still am actively involved in the healthcare sector. I am the CEO of Simula Health and also work as a clinical nurse in a university hospital in Southern Brazil, accumulating over a decade of experience.

My journey has taken me through various areas, from clinical settings to intensive care and surgical units. Additionally, I had the privilege of teaching for a year at a Federal University in the region. While I love the academic environment and interacting with students, I made the decision to temporarily set aside my academic career.

I believe that the impact of our startup on healthcare education in Brazil will be much more significant, surpassing the influence I would have maintained by pursuing an academic path after completing my doctoral studies.

What is it like to be a female entrepreneur in Simula Health?

Being a woman entrepreneur at Simula Health is the ultimate achievement for me. Not only do I have the opportunity to apply my clinical simulation knowledge to the business, but I also perceive the social impact I’m generating in healthcare training, both at a national and Latin American level.

In the context of Brazil, entrepreneuring as a woman in a tech-based startup presents notable challenges. Apart from being a pioneer in virtual reality, I face distinct hurdles, such as seeking investments and confronting gender biases and inequalities. These challenges can be disheartening, yet I profoundly believe in the significance of the cause I advocate for. I remain committed and inspired by the potential impact we can achieve and the change we’re actively bringing about.

Which woman has inspired you the most and why?

Selecting a single woman as inspiration would be unjust, as several have shaped my journey.

My family, my mother and sister, inspire me with their dedication and love for the family. On an intellectual level, my doctoral advisor, Professor Mariur, made me believe in myself and pursue dreams that seemed unattainable. She helped me regain self-esteem and trust in my potential.

Additionally, financial entrepreneurs in Brazil, like Cristina Junqueira (Nubank co-founder) and Nathalia Arcuri (Me Poupe co-founder), also inspire me. They surpassed barriers, challenged limits, and impacted lives, influencing the daily lives of many. These women teach me that achieving the seemingly unattainable is possible.

Is there anything you wish you had done differently?

When it comes to this question, I believe the answer is uncertain. The entrepreneurial journey is marked by a blend of mistakes and successes, a complex emotional ride. One day, you feel invincible; the next, you question your choices.

The process of entrepreneurship is transformative, one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Therefore, considering the rollercoaster of experiences, I wouldn’t change anything, as each step was a vital part of this journey. The maturity I gained through this transformation allowed me to make more accurate decisions. Ultimately, I would do everything the same way, because it was the best I could do with the resources available at that time. Loved the question.

What are the main challenges as a woman entrepreneur in the simulation industry?

The challenges as a female entrepreneur in the simulation industry are extensive and varied. I face significant barriers, as many decision-makers are men – investors and clients – which inherently makes entry difficult. Additionally, in a field dominated by medical professionals, there’s a tendency to underestimate other areas like nursing (at least in Brazil). The presence of companies monopolizing simulation, especially in countries like Brazil, adds another challenge. Demonstrating the value and potential of my business while competing in the market with limited financial resources seems nearly insurmountable. However,

I view these challenges as opportunities to break stereotypes and overcome obstacles, empowering me to lead with resilience and determination.

What are your future plans?

My plans encompass both professional and personal dimensions. On the professional front, my focus lies with Simula Health, aiming to solidify it as a renowned and successful company. I aspire to play a pivotal role in individuals’ development, empowering their careers through my company and positively influencing healthcare education, enhancing professionals’ qualifications. Consequently, I aim to transition from hospital care and channel my energies entirely into healthcare education.

On the personal side, I maintain financial ambitions and dreams to be fulfilled in the realm of relationships. I have set priorities and am at peace with my trajectory.

What piece of advice would you give any aspiring female business leader reading this article?

My advice to any aspiring business leader is to find a higher purpose that transcends initial challenges and frustrations. While these hurdles initially fueled my motivation, discovering a genuine purpose has become the most powerful driving force. When we identify this purpose, we are fueled by a resilience and determination that often seem unreachable.

Through the journey with Simula Health, I’ve experienced a profound personal and professional transformation. My ambition now is to inspire others in their paths, just as I have been inspired by numerous individuals along the way. Finding a genuine purpose is the foundation to navigate adversities and build a lasting impact.

Thanks so much for sharing your entrepreneurial experience with us, and good luck in growing your business.


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