Simulation: Reconnect 2023

Liam McCollow MBBS FACEM

Medical Education Fellow – Gold Coast Hospital & Health Service

Educators know the importance of communities of practice, of coming together as colleagues, collaborators, experts, and novices to learn from, with and about each other. In that spirit, a passionate group of Simulation enthusiasts gathered at Bond University on the Gold Coast to share the latest evidence and experiences in healthcare simulation at Simulation: Reconnect 2023.


This year’s first keynote speaker was Vicki LeBlanc, Chair and Professor of Medical Education at the University of Ottawa. She is a world-leader in research looking at the effects of stress and emotion on learning and performance, especially in the field of healthcare simulation. Her presentation “Predictable Chaos – How Emotions Guide Learning and Performance” was an illuminating glimpse into this complex field of research. We heard how stress and emotion are neither good nor bad, equal asset and liability depending on intent and how we choose to adapt. I must admit, even with some prior reading on the topic, I continue to grapple with the practical application in my own work. I suspect that practical strategies for consciously regulating emotions will have a major impact on the future of education design and delivery, and how healthcare professionals optimise performance in stressful situations.


The next presentation was “Value-based Simulation: Thoughts on Impact Measures”, with Katie Walker and Ben Symon from Mater Education. The liveliest discussion in the room was around the placement of the assessment of cost-effectiveness at the top of the Hierarchy of Evaluation model (Rossi, Lipsey, & Freeman, 2003). The takeaway from that discussion was around the ubiquity of the pyramid graphic, both for hierarchies and taxonomies, and a central misapprehension that higher position on the pyramid implies a higher importance or worthiness. Rather, the base of the pyramid, in this case the assessment of need, should be seen as the vital foundation and the consideration of cost takes its position only because it cannot be considered until the foundational considerations have been addressed.


The second keynote speaker was Ellen Davies from Adelaide Health Simulation. In her talk, “The art and science of designing recommendations for an organisation wide simulation program” she shared core insights from her recently published paper (Davies, Montagu & Brazil, 2023), around the evolving practical and philosophical considerations of health care simulation. Among other reflections, there was an emphasis on sim services delivering more than individual learning outcomes, but also addressing organisation and systems objectives, including safety and quality improvement, and the implications of this expanded role on planning, resourcing, and governance of simulation services.


Next, Debra Nestel, Professor of Surgical Education, University of Melbourne, Professor of Simulation Education in Healthcare, and Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Healthcare Simulation presented a brief but thought-provoking audit of the types of research currently being published in the simulation research space with “What I learnt from healthcare simulation research published last year…”. I‘m certain publication is forthcoming but, as well as serving as a useful guide to which journals are best for reading and/or publishing specific kinds of research, I detected some  personal lamentation for the relative paucity of recent qualitative research.


Critical Care Nurse, Educator, and podcast producer (Simulcast, Injectable Orange), Jesse Spurr shared some of his experience with creating, improving, promoting, and maintaining podcast audio excellence in his presentation “Finding our voices as clinicians and educators”. For me the key messages were (1) don’t just jump in, and (2) if you have a clear vision and you’re genuinely willing to commit the time, then absolutely jump in.


After lunch, Simulation Educator, Zach Buxton presented “Demystifying 3D printing for simulation educators” where he displayed some of his impressive simulation innovations while mendaciously insisting that he is no expert in the field. Essentially, for those willing to commit to an indeterminate period of trial and error, as well as the initial financial outlay, there is true value to be gained, limited only by your willingness to try.


In her talk, “Working with older adults as simulated participants: Optimizing learning for everyone”, Dr Nemat Alsaba, Assistant Professor of Medical Education & Simulation and Director of the Simulation Program at Bond University, gave an impassioned and well-reasoned argument for the benefits of expanded utilisation of real older participants in healthcare simulation.


Ian Summers and his team from Monash Simulation gave a practical demonstration of what a simulation team can achieve with simulated patients/participants, including insights into cultural considerations for international medical graduates, in his presentation “Confessions of a mannequin addict”. This team gets a special mention, both for having the most dynamic presentation of the day, and for making me reflect on my use of manikins without explicit consideration of the modality.


Next, Dr Nicole Sng presented “TACT: Building a high-performance teamwork strategy at Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital” – a fascinating insight into the process of establishing a new initiative within an established institution. I enjoyed their reflection on the initial assumption that translational simulation would be the cornerstone of the program, only to discover the absolute necessity of a multi-modal approach.


Finally, the famous voices of Simulcast, Victoria Brazil, Jessica Stokes-Parish, and Ben Symons, hosted special guest Vicki LeBlanc in a live and interactive Journal Club where attendees could join the conversation by posting live comments for discussion. There was an interesting dichotomy around one of the papers (, where most, if not all, agreed that subjective assessment of the quality of CPR is very unreliable, but many were critical of the objective measures chosen as a surrogate markers, both for CPR efficacy and team collaboration, in this study. Perhaps non-invasive measures will always be less objective than invasive haemodynamic monitoring but there was a general feeling that pose estimation may not be the next best option.


After this incredible line-up of speakers, the day concluded with drinks and canapes. The lively and collegial discussion was a testament to the success of the event. Speaking with other attendees, the thing I heard over and over again was “I can’t wait for next year”.


NOTE: There were optional masterclasses held on the previous day. Unfortunately, I could not attend, but those who did gave rave reviews.


Simulation: Reconnect 2023 was jointly hosted by the Bond Translational Simulation Collaborative and Simulcast with additional support from Laerdal Australia. Simulation: Reconnect 2024 will be held on November 27, 2024 – See