News & Press: Professional Development

Getting Back to Why

Monday, September 14, 2020  
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by SimGHOSTS Board Member Matt Charnetski


Oh hey there, I’m glad you’re here.


It’s been a fantastic summer of getting to engage with the simulation community and I’ve been really impressed with what everyone is up to.  Like, really impressed.  What’s been interesting is that I keep hearing the same issue in different forms over and over again.


“My colleagues don’t agree.”  “I can’t get ‘them’ to listen to me.” “I did all this work to put this together and it turned out great… But no one really noticed or appreciated it.”


As Healthcare Simulation Technology Specialists we often pride ourselves on being behind the scenes, on “making the magic happen.”


And we do.  Repeatedly.  Day in and day out.


As I was thinking about those lamentations above, though, I realized something.  Those are about the What of our work, not the Why.


So, I dug in and I learned some things, I hope you’ll come on this adventure with me; it might help you break down some of those issues if you’ve ever had them.


If you get the chance, check out some of Simon Sinek’s talks on TED (  I’ll tell you what, this dude really has a way of inspiring you to do what you’re passionate about and of helping you inspire other people to care about the same things you do.  In his longer talk (come on, it’s 18 min, anyone can do 18 min) he makes a sincere and very convincing case that we get in the habit of talking about the What that we do and we get a little fuzzy about the Why.


This is it.  If you’re looking for it, this is the take home…  Let’s talk about the “Why.”  As an HSTS, if you feel that something is important, don’t just underscore what is important, but frame it in why it is important.  You want to do some in depth moulage? Why? You think that a certain setup makes more sense or even that a specific debriefing method is the way to go?  Why??


It can make all the difference in the world in how those conversations go.  But let’s take it a step farther, because that’s what we do…  Sometimes we get caught up in the operational why of things that we start wanting to do things for sim’s sake (aside: please someone start exclaiming “Aw, for sim’s sake!” It would make my day).  We can do a lot of cool stuff, we have the technology, we have the skill, and the knowledge!  But we need to have a better why.  A bigger why.  Logistics are important.  Operational ease is important. Fidelity is important.  But sometimes those things aren’t enough.  So, we start to lean on accreditation or standards of best practice.  Exceedingly important things to us and ours.  But that is sometimes a hill that is hard to climb…


Instead, this is where theory, purpose, and research can help.  Yes, accreditation standards and standards of best practice are based on research.  But our customers may not have the buy-in we need, yet.  Go a step deeper.  Find the research that was used and find out how to relate it to your exact context.  Use learning theories to help tie your idea to what is being done.  Go to the far end of what we’re trying to do and place it in a quality or patient safety context.  When you start doing this, the conversation changes.  Not only is it far more successful, it’s far more professional.  Show your team, your faculty, your customers, whomever.  Show them the way to better sim and reintroduce them to the why.  Stop letting them check the box, or worse, checking the box for them!


Hopefully you’re all still with me… 


Because at the same time that I was thinking about all of this I had an unexpected opportunity…


The Global Network for Simulation in Healthcare ( had their annual meeting this summer.  For those of you that aren’t aware; this is a small, yet mighty, simulation organization with a distinct and clear focus on patient safety.  Their membership is worldwide (like some other organizations that we are all very familiar with) and, interestingly, some of the biggest names in sim happen to be very active members of this group!  But, most importantly, their Why is crystal clear and they used this as a driver for every conversation they had.  Their mission: “[GNSH] envisions a healthcare culture that empowers people and systems to maximize safety outcomes for patients and staff.”


Speaking with this group of people and listening to them approach the issues that they had identified, they talked a great deal about the What (you can’t operationalize without doing it), but it was always abundantly clear that their What was firmly rooted in their Why.


So, what about you all?  Why sim?  Why are you here?  Why is it important where you are?  Why should your leadership, your administration, you faculty, even your students (!) care about simulation and engaging in this experiential learning style we all adore?


Patient safety? Quality improvement? Personal experience in healthcare that drove you to want to make it better?  Love tech? Love dolls and makeup (you know who you are)? I’d love to hear about it!  So, please, during this Healthcare Simulation Week, share your Why!