Medical Simulation

What’s Jan up to now?

For what may be the first time in this blog’s history, I’m going to write a bit about my professional/working life. Since 2010 I’ve been in school and/or working as a respiratory therapist – which brings us to the first question – what’s a respiratory therapist?


Having a look at a ventilator – Sochi Olympics emergency clinic.

Respiratory therapists are registered health professionals working mostly (but not exclusively) in North America. We are neither doctors nor nurses, but work closely alongside both of these groups. Most of us are in hospitals, though you may also encounter us in home care and in various clinics. We work in emergency rooms, intensive care units, pulmonary function and exercise stress testing labs and obstetrical units, among many other areas. You might meet us in a busy trauma centre, or we might be sitting down with a patient for half an hour to discuss how we can help them quit smoking; our roles our varied. Another excellent synopsis can be found here:

A large amount of our work involves working with oxygen delivery devices from the humble nasal cannula, to CPAP and BiPAP (noninvasive) and invasive (ie. tube down your throat – to put it very crudely) ventilators (one component of “life support”). I enjoy my work because of it’s variety, and the opportunity to act as a bridge between patients and their families and technology, and between other members of the healthcare team.


Back to school – Health Research Building – University of Hertfordshire.

After being in the hospital setting for the last three years (minus a break to compete in the Olympics) I am excited to be returning to school this year. I am attending the University of Hertfordshire (just north of London, UK) in their MSc. Medical and Healthcare Simulation program. This brings us to the second question – what is medical simulation?

By my own definition, medical simulation is the use of technology and scenarios to better teach and train individuals (in this case medical professionals) and teams in skills, decision making and effective teamwork. Scenarios can vary enormously in their length, realism, scale and technology used. Some examples include using a rubber arm to repeatedly practice phlebotomy (“blood work”) skills, using actors to practice patient interviews and assessments, all the way up to completely rehearsing complex neurosurgical operations in the exact setting they will be conducted in.

One of the room at the UH medical simulation centre.

In my training and practice I have benefited enormously from simulation training, especially in the areas of Advanced Cardiac Life Support, Pediatric Advanced Life Support and Neonatal Resuscitation. I look forward to being able to learn about the technology used in simulation centres, and to develop my skills in designing and debriefing effective scenarios. I am also looking forward to spending a year in England, learning more about the NHS and comparing its function to the Canadian system which I am most familiar with.

I believe there are large similarities between athletic and medical skill training. Mental and physical preparation, video analysis, and effective coaching are all very applicable to both fields.

In terms of my athletic career I have joined the rowing team at UH, am continuing dryland training, and am planning on-snow training during school holidays, all in order to prepare myself for the 2017 World Championships in Finland. It promises to be another exciting year ahead! Thanks for reading, and all the best.    – Jan

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