Editor in Chief Judith Riess reports from the 2014 SESAM conference.

SESAM is dedicated to support the use of simulation in healthcare for training and research, through projects, through its newsletter, through its affiliation and partnerships with simulation users, other simulation associations and partnerships with companies who build devices and develop education and training materials. Last, but not least their international conference brings together leaders in simulation to discuss new initiatives and encourage the growth of simulation in healthcare.

2014 marked SESAM’s 20th anniversary. The 2014 conference was held in Poznan, Poland and was co-chaired by Michael Czekajlo, MD (Richmond, VA), and Łukasz Gąsiorowski, MD, PhD (Poznan, Poland) and supported by a number of student volunteers and members of the SESAM organizing committee.

The conference was attended by delegates from 41 countries. The participants attended pre-conference workshops, keynote lectures, and presentations covering a wide range of topics from inter-professional development, team training, assessment, simulation scenario development, human factors and standardized patients to site a few. The conference also hosted outstanding social events to commemorate their 20th anniversary.

Each year the programme chair(s) introduce new activities and topics to the conference. In 2014 the structure included 90 minute workshops as part of the program as well as the pre-conference workshops. They introduced a multi-platform smartphone conference application, which allowed participants to download full conference agenda information, participate in live discussions and voting during sessions, connect with other attendees, receive announcements and use as a venue navigation device, as well as find out about social events.

Keynote addresses were given by leaders in the field of medicine and simulation including Roger Kneebone, Imperial College, London; Terry Poulton, Professor of e-learning, St. George’s University of London; and Walter Eppich, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. An interesting edition was the military and pre hospital session chaired by Anthony LaPorta. It covered topics from assessing combat medics to ER and EMS training together to hemorrhage control.

For the first time they had an international Sim Olympics for medical students. Medical students from five countries participated. Teams were composed of a team leader and three or four team members. Their cases involved the management of a critically ill patient. Teams were evaluated on their communication, teamwork, decision-making, situation awareness, task management and outcomes.

The team’s scenario was assessed by an international jury (faculty) and each scenario was 12 minutes in duration. The teams were allowed 15 minutes to familiarize themselves with the equipment prior to the scenario. As one conference participant noted, “Seeing group after group of medical students being put through their paces (with a range of performances) was inspirational.”

Another cost effective measure they introduced was a sliding fee schedule. Participants paid according to their status. This was used to get more central and eastern European countries involved as well as more nurses, residents and other healthcare providers.

Overall the chairs were pleased with the conference outcome and feel that the European Union mandate to incorporate simulation in education and training will benefit SESAM. They also felt that more interaction with the SESAM executive committee would benefit future conference chairs. They appreciated all the hard work the organizing committee and volunteers contributed.

This year’s SESAM, June 24-26, being held in Belfast, will introduce more new activities. Dr. Jim Murray, this year’s conference chair has already announced a pre hospital emergency care scenario delivered in conjunction with the RNLI and the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service. Since the meeting site is directly adjacent to the river Langan, an ‘interactive ‘hands on’ simulation exercise has been planned.

This year’s focus will be on advances and innovations in simulation for assessment and training; identifying opportunities for multi-center and multidisciplinary training and collaboration; gaining insights on skills based assessment; simulation based research and interprofessional development. Dr. Michael Good, Dean, University of Florida Medical School will give a keynote address.