Check out this insightful interview with Erica Hinojosa, president of SimGHOSTS, discussing her journey and future of simulation tech.
Erica Hinojosa, a leader in healthcare simulation, shares her insights on SimGHOSTS and its role in advancing simulation technology in education. Starting as a simulation technician, she progressed to managerial roles, combining her passion for education and technology. She discusses the evolution and impact of simulation technology in healthcare education, highlighting the growing importance of SimGHOSTS in shaping the future of healthcare simulation. She emphasizes the need for professional development and standardized training in this rapidly evolving field, showcasing SimGHOSTS’ significant impact on healthcare education and practice.
Erica Hinojosa is currently the Simulation Technology Manager at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) College of Nursing and Health Innovation (CONHI) Smart Hospital.
Erica is the President of Gathering of Healthcare Simulation Technology Specialist (SimGHOSTS), and a member of Society for Simulation in Healthcare (SSH), Simulation Professionals of Texas (SPOT), and Simulation User Network (SUN).
Hi Erica, thanks for accepting to share some time and thoughts with us.
Let us begin by asking you about your educational background and your work experience
Hi! I am very excited to partner with SIMZINE and be interviewed.
I am currently the Simulation Technology Manager at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) College of Nursing and Health Innovation (CONHI) Smart Hospital. Prior to becoming the Simulation Technology Manager, I worked as a Simulation Technician at UTA CONHI Smart Hospital for two and a half years. I graduated from UTA with a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science and the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a Master of Science in Healthcare Simulation. My background allows me to understand the medical and educational aspects of healthcare simulation. In December of 2018, I became a Certified Healthcare Simulation Operations Specialist (CHSOS) and in March of 2021, I became a Certified Healthcare Simulation Operations Specialist-Advance (CHSOS-A) through the Society for Simulation in Healthcare (SSH).
So, what drew you to simulation?
I love the concept of working in higher education, teaching, fixing things, and being hands-on. I laughed at my mom in high school when she mentioned I would be great in education but here I am now loving my job every day working in higher education. What drew me to simulation is the excitement of working with learners, being a part of the process of educating future healthcare professionals, and being a member of the team that problem solves and finds solutions in healthcare simulation. My undergraduate is in Exercise Science and for a long time I wanted to coach but as I was completing my undergraduate degree, I had the privilege of working in the simulation center on campus that opened a new door to opportunities.
What exactly is the Gathering of Healthcare Simulation Technology Specialists (SimGHOSTS)? An association? A scientific society? And to whom does it address?
SimGHOSTS is a non-profit, international organization that supports individuals and institutions using healthcare simulation technology through hands-on training, online resources, and professional development. The SimGHOSTS community consists of Healthcare Simulation Technology Specialist/Simulation Technicians/Simulation Operation Specialists. Although SimGHOSTS is a predominant technology-based organization, it is important to recognize we have eight domains of practice which includes Audio-Visual, Education, Healthcare, Information Technology, Management/Operations, Research, Simulation Technology, and Theatrics. This allows the organization to be welcoming and diverse to many aspects of the simulation community.
How did you decide to offer your services for the position of SimGHOSTS President you are currently serving?
I have always been passionate about leadership positions. I love serving on an executive team and being an influence to those around me and in the organization. Furthermore, with me being a people person, I feel a deep connection with the SimGHOSTS community. Considering the presidency was a “no brainer”. I am excited to embark on my new journey as President and look forward to the advancements that are possible for the organization.
Simulation Technology Specialist is a fairly new professional figure, at least in many countries. What is it and what exactly does it do?
Healthcare Simulation Technology Specialists (HSTS) are employed in simulation programs and are responsible for the set-up, operations, and maintenance of the simulation environment. Providing a definition is the easier part of the question and, unfortunately, it is challenging to define every specific role as a HSTS. I see many variations of the positions from institution to institution. As a way to address this concern, previous to my presidency, a working group in SimGHOSTS developed the SimGHOSTS Capability Framework to support role definition, progressive pathways, and title clarity.
Is there a standard training path for those who want to enter this profession?
There is not a standardized training path for those in the HSTS position. This is a major concern and a gap in the profession. Although we have the Capability Framework to define the job description, the industry does not have a framework to train HSTS once in the role. As I embark on my presidency, I am going to create a workgroup to develop standards for training to deploy into the profession that will promote proper training across the variety of roles as HSTS to resolve this issue.
We are in a time of great simulation challenges. How do you see SimGHOSTS’s role and contributions to meet these challenges?
I cannot speak to every challenge within the simulation community, but I would love to address the question from the point of view of a Technology Specialist. As I travel around the world, attend various conferences, and discuss simulation with others, I quickly noticed there is a professional gap in the industry by not recognizing the “technology specialist” as a respected role in healthcare simulation. This is forcing educators and directors into many roles at their respected institution which is taking them away from their main roles and responsibilities. Efforts have been made in the United States to work with the Department of Labor to establish a defined Healthcare Simulation Operations Specialist as a standard occupation. I am optimistic as we better define the role that many countries will follow or as we better define the role, we can pioneer the importance of the positions in many countries.
And how do you think industry can help in this process?
The tremendous amount of research in healthcare simulation will assist the process of eliminating challenges by having justifiable results that support the use of healthcare simulation for learners. There will always be the process of quality improvement for healthcare simulation and integration but, over the last 8 years, I have seen healthcare simulation grow so positively. There are more organization/affiliations, more educators, more simulation leaders, more technology specialists, and more standardized patients than we have ever seen before. Additionally, the process of establishing standardized occupations for roles in healthcare simulation. Organizations are much more progressive, and it is great to see affiliation to collectively join each other for the great good of healthcare simulation. We need to keep doing all of the above
Strengthening alliances, promoting innovation and interdisciplinarity, is key when it comes to developing a new discipline such as simulation in healthcare. How do you expect the SimGHOSTS to enhance synergies and with what actors?
SimGHOSTS is a remarkable organization with many affiliate partners such as SSH, INACSL, ASPE, SESAM, ASPiH, Simulation Australasia, Simulation Canada, PASSH, and FLASIC. Additionally, media partners with Healthy Simulation, The Sim Café, Podcast, SimGeeks Podcast, and SIMZINE. SimGHOSTS is a proud representation of an organization that goes above and beyond to strengthen alliances, promote innovation, and interdisciplinary relationships. I agree that it is key to advance healthcare simulation by coming together and SimGHOSTS will be a vital part in the process along with other organization. To enhance synergies, SimGHOSTS will continue to promote professional development through online resources, hands-on workshops, conferences, collaborate with organization, promote technology, and maintain a presence in the simulation community.
If you had to post what we used to all call tweets to convince a technology specialist to join SimGHOSTS what would you write?
You want to learn in one of the most passionate communities and make long time best friends, SimGHOSTS is for you!
Thank you, Erica, for participating in this interview. We’re thrilled to provide our readers with enriched content, thanks to our partnership with SimGHOSTS, which brings incredible expertise and an extensive network to SIMZINE.