After the Sydney Forum – What’s Next?

On July 10th the ESS Collaborative hosted an invitation only forum in Sydney. Can simulation be used to replace clinical placement? Lessons learned from global and national perspectives to inform future research and practice.


38 participants attended the forum and the evaluation of the event was extremely positive.

A great day, well organised. Felt inspired hearing the speakers to continue moving forward in relation to my own research and curriculum design”.


Many participants requested that the ESS Collaborative hold annual events to bring together thought leaders in the intersection between education, simulation and safety.

So it seems that there is a real appetite to move this agenda forward and participants identified the following priorities for future activity.

The ESS Collaborative is currently working on, and seeking funding for, a number of projects which will inform these priorities. We are meeting in Wellington NZ in October to continue developing an undergraduate curriculum approach and principles which will guide future work. We are also looking for ways to widen participation in the ESS Collaborative – so watch this space!



History repeating itself….

In March the Nursing and Midwifery Council in the United Kingdom announced changes to standards for pre-registration nursing programmes, which were reported in the nursing press as ‘historic”. The term historic can have all manner of meanings ranging from important (momentous, remarkable, significant) to old (ancient, past, bygone) or simply full of history.

Amongst the raft of changes was the decision not to raise the cap on simulation hours from 300 hours from a total number of 2,300 clinical practice hours to the anticipated 1,150 hours i.e. a maximum of 50% of clinical practice hours being undertaken by simulation. Instead, the NMC decided to completely remove the cap on the hours that can be spent in simulation activities. Not surprisingly there has been some disquiet expressed about this decision and the NMC response is reportedly that they will monitor universities’ use of simulation. But if we look at the situation from an evidence based perspective, the decision by the NMC is difficult to challenge.

Historically simulation has been used for a long time in nursing programmes, with little evidence to support the type or amount of simulation learning and, it could be argued, with little or no control over the quality of simulation learning experiences. Early findings from a systematic review we are currently undertaking suggests that the evidence for an accreditation standard ratio, or proportion, of simulation hours to clinical placement hours is scant. While we are still synthesising international RCTs of the substitution of clinical placement hours with simulation hours across health disciplines, trial interventions favour replacement of 25-50% simulation to clinical placement, but determining the proportion for replacement seems arbitrary.

Application of these replacement proportions is made even more tenuous by the lack of evidence to support the mandated number of clinical placement hours in the first place, and that evidence gap is also the subject work by the ESS Collaborative. Perhaps our efforts will provide solid ground to inform standards for clinical placement hours and the use of simulation and, in doing so, we can stop history repeating itself.

An accidental truth…what’s in a name?

The truth is that academics are always busy; and the Principal Collaborators of the ESS Collaborative are no exception. We have been meeting and working together for several years and yet, the last item on our meeting agendas always seemed to be carried over for the next meeting. The item in question was ‘how we should name our group?’

In desperation last year I offered a gift voucher to whoever could capture the nature of the work we do, and the way that we do it, in a succinct name. This focussed everyone’s attention and finally we all agreed that Simon Cooper should win the prize for his offering The Education, Simulation and Safety Collaborative.

Last week we gathered in Sydney for a two-day meeting. I arrived in a post- summer holiday fugue state, hoping that the energy of the group would carry me along and that the meeting would be reenergising and productive. By the end of the first day we had achieved so much and on the second day of the meeting I paused for a moment to look around the room. It was buzzing…

Everyone was focused, engaged, enthusiastic, contributing, offering ideas freely and sharing the responsibilities for tasks required in order to develop our next project. And then it occurred to me that, as a group, we embody what it means to be a true collaborative. So whether by accident or design the name The ESS Collaborative suits us to a tee. By the way Simon immediately bought a lovely bottle of gin with his prize – which he has yet to share with his collaborators!