The American College of Surgeons (ACS) recently reaccredited the National Capital Region Simulation Consortium, comprised of simulation centers at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC), Uniformed Services University, Fort Belvoir Community Hospital and Malcolm Grow Medical Center at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. The reaccreditation, achieved in October 2022, lasts for five years.

The simulation center (SIM center) at WRNMMC provides users realistic education and training in patient care and emergency medicine. The 5,000-square-foot facility includes the technology and protocols of real operating and exam rooms, in addition to a skills laboratory, an emergency room/intensive care unit, hands-on classroom training instruments, and an advanced audio-visual system.

Patient simulators (full-body, high-fidelity computerized medical manikins) in the simulation center, have realistic human anatomy and physiology with the capabilities to blink, sweat, bleed, suffer heartaches, stop breathing and simulate birth to provide for the teaching of clinical skills in a professional health-care setting. The virtual reality (VR) technology allows those users to train for endoscopy, bronchoscopy, arthroscopy laparoscopic and other surgical procedures.

Training is also available in the center for ultrasound-guided central line placement, lumbar puncture, suturing and biopsy. The center also has the capabilities for training to conduct thoracentesis, paracentesis, ultrasound-guided peripheral intravenous, rheumatology joint injection therapy (knee, shoulder, elbow and wrist), and ultrasound-guided amniocentesis procedures.

Some of the areas and courses the simulation center supports include Pulmonary Critical Care Mock Codes, the Internal Medicine Resident's Ultrasound Course, General Surgery Mock Orals, the Nursing Skills Fair, Neonatology Fellows Objective Structured Clinical Examination, Trauma Nursing Core Course Provider Course, Advanced Trauma Life Support, Simulation Training for Operational Medicine Physicians, Orthopaedic Arthroscopy Course, the Neonatal Resuscitation Program Course and the Critical Care Support Obstetrics Course.

The SIM center also supported WRNMMC’s Code Green mass casualty exercise during the fall, providing patient simulators as mock victims for the event.

The SIM center’s goal is to “advance faculty and staff development, graduate and undergraduate medical education, and improve overall patient safety and outcomes,” according to its department chief, Dr. Jennifer C. Geracht.

Accreditation of simulation centers is comparable to the Joint Commission survey for a hospital. It involves meeting the standards of the ACS for SIM centers; submission of documentation by the center to the ACS concerning how the center seeking accreditation is meeting ACS standards; and a video site visit by a team of experts representing the ACS to ensure the center is adhering to ACS standards, explained retired Navy Capt. (Dr.) Joseph Lopreiato, associate dean for Simulation Education at USU who led the consortium.

The NCR SIM consortium is also accredited by the Society for Simulation in Healthcare (SSH), and up for reaccreditation by the society for another five years in 2024, Lopreiato added. The SSH also seeks to advance the application of medical simulation in health care. The consortium’s dual accreditation by the ACS and SSH makes it “one of a select few in the world” to achieve the distinction of being accredited by both organizations to “the maximum level,” according to Lopreiato.

He explained the consortium is “an integrated unit and shared resources, space and people among the [NCR SIM centers] to accomplish the mission of providing high quality simulation experiences to all our leaners. [Our] vision is for this model to be replicated throughout the Defense Health Agency enterprise,” he said.

Lopreiato added the NCR Simulation Consortium and its centers have been reaccredited multiple times, which serves as indication of the quality of the services they provide. “We were the first in the Department of Defense to earn accreditation, and now there are several other military simulation centers.” He furthered that being one of only a few of all SIM centers to have both ACS and SSH accreditation assures a simulation center’s learners, as well as the center’s administration and stakeholders, that the center follows best practices in the creation, development, maintenance, and expansion of enterprises pertaining to simulation in health care.