Silvia Bressan, between medical practice and simulation

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Full of enthusiasm and ideas, Silvia Bressan tells how simulation training and research are part of her professional life.

Pediatrician with great interest in traumatology and emergencies. A research fellowship in Australia and later in Israel. Multiple national and international scientific projects and a large network of contacts with foreign institutions and researchers. Associate Professor at the University of Padua, where she runs the SIM Dream simulation group that she helped found. For years she has dedicated much of her time to simulation, from training to research, publishing in international journals. Silvia Bressan is the only woman at the ministerial table on simulation. We called her on the phone and asked her 10 questions + 1 to get to know her better. Serious and at the same time astute in her answers, Silvia defines herself as a “research puppy” and has inspired us with what she tells about her peers whom she appreciates.

1. SZ: Let’s start with a simple icebreaker question: do you prefer medical practice, teaching or research?

And you call this a simple question? Oh my gosh, what should I expect from the next questions? Let’s say that I find it hard to imagine myself without one of these facets, but above all I am a doctor. So, as far as the medical practice is concerned, I prefer pediatric ER and as for teaching, teaching with simulation wins! For research, I have been involved in clinical research for years, and even if I feel like a “research puppy” in simulation research, the enthusiasm is very high.

2. SZ: How do you combine your profession with being a mother?

With so much effort, seasoned with a substratum of guilt, which fades away only when I think that if I didn’t do the profession I do it would be even more unbearable… and then with the fundamental help of the holy man with whom I have been sharing joys and sorrows for years, and who is a very good dad!

3. SZ: What is your limit in professional relationships?

I wish I only had a limit in this area! I have too many to list. When I can, I recognize that I “hide” to try to complete too many things that I always have pending. And here I could open a great chapter on the excess of enthusiasm and efficiency at work. But please do not ask me any questions about this, “otherwise I will answer you ‘only in the presence of my psychologist’ ☺

4. SZ: Previously, you called yourself a “research puppy” in simulation. What does it mean?

It means that although I have been involved in clinical research for a long time, it is only in the last few years that I have started to deal with simulation research, so I feel a bit like a puppy, full of enthusiasm and ideas, lively, but needy to grow and mature in this field. This is why it was essential to immediately work on multicenter projects with national and international colleagues and friends with extensive experience in the field.

5. SZ: A researcher is someone who asks questions and seeks the answers to those questions. What questions do you ask yourself?

Well, all kinds of questions. And the answer to even simple questions often translates to “research,” even outside the medical field. With regard to simulation research, the two main questions I am and we are trying to answer with colleagues and friends in the group are: (1) how to improve the management of pediatric cardiac arrest (since this often does not follow guidelines recommendations) and, (2) how to best use virtual reality to teach pediatric emergency management. Some works have already seen the light, while others are in progress and we hope they will be published.

6. SZ: As a researcher, do you think it is more important to have an excellentimpact factororinfluence factor?

Let me add an out-of-the-box parameter that I think is very important, namely the “quality/satisfaction factor”. By this I mean the balance between the ability to produce high-quality, relevant research and gain satisfaction from the projects you do or participate in. There are cases in which the result and performance of a project may not be the same as expected in terms of quality and relevance, but elements such as good teamwork, professional growth, overcoming certain obstacles or particular challenges, are a source of great satisfaction for the researcher.

7. SZ: If you could write off any negative experience in your career, what would it be?

I would impulsively say some projects I have been involved in, which have been extremely hard to complete and exhausting due to inadequate planning/scheduling. But then, on second thought, erasing these experiences would deprive me of important lessons that I was able to draw during these grueling journeys and that turned out to be invaluable for my later work. It is true that there may be more effective methods to learn them, but who knows what I would have been like if these experiences had not existed… It is essential to anticipate possible challenges, simulate different scenarios, and check the expertise and professionalism of the people who have key roles within a project.

8. SZ: And if you had to start from scratch today, what would be the first 3 things you would do?

I would play a team sport. I would like to learn through simulation already at university. I would anticipate experience abroad already during university studies.

9. SZ: How do you see simulation in Italy in the future?

Essential and growing, as a fundamental tool to guarantee high-quality care and ensure patient safety. I believe that now is the right time for the formal recognition and development of this training method, even in contexts that have invested less at the institutional level. Along with the excellent Italian simulation centers, there are some realities in which the simulation has been carried out and practiced for years without a formal recognition of the educational burden of the facilitators, and/or investment in the resources that would be really necessary to give response to real training needs. I believe that the establishment, for the first time, of a ministerial working table dedicated to simulation is an important catalyst to promote and encourage the use of quality simulation more widely in our country.

10. SZ: Well, you are the only woman who sits at the Work Table about simulation that has just been installed by the Ministry of Health. There will be a reason. What is it in your opinion?

Well, someone was needed to save the Work Table from possible attacks by the equal opportunity committees and then the puppies, in any area, are a bit irresistible! ☺

10+1. 10 + 1. SZ: The “zine” question, in short, the uncomfortable question: three names of colleagues that you particularly appreciate?

Very uncomfortable question, or maybe not… I was lucky enough to work with many experienced, more mature or younger colleagues in different parts of the world and reducing the names to three really means doing someone wrong, also because there are colleagues who I really appreciate for very different aspects.

However, there are three categories of colleagues that I particularly appreciate:

– The mentors, the real ones. Those who teach and guide you with professionalism, honesty and respect, with their example and their humanity, who are genuinely happy about your successes because they know that they are also theirs.
– Curious and enthusiastic colleagues, really, because even after the bad days they will always be at the forefront for patients, for training or for research and they will be able to infect those around them by enabling the changes and innovations necessary to improve healthcare.
– The mentees, the young colleagues that you mentor at various levels, because you learn a lot from younger people, much more than I thought. Because commitment, professional honesty, seriousness, determination should not be taken for granted, but should be valued and cultivated.

SZ: Thanks a lot for your time, Silvia.

Ciao e buon lavoro

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