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Interprofessional, simulation educator provides student-oriented approach to learning at WVU Health Sciences

Interprofessional, simulation educator provides student-oriented approach to learning at WVU Health Sciences

After learning about the Standardized Patient Program from a friend during her undergraduate studies at West Virginia University, Katie Hoffman applied for the program and began working with WVU Health Sciences students as part of their clinical training. That experience marked the beginning of her involvement with the David and Jo Ann Shaw Center for Simulation Training and Education for Patient Safety (STEPS) and set her on a path to helping countless students become confident, competent healthcare providers.

Katie, a native of Braddock Hills, Pennsylvania, was introduced to simulation training as a teenager while she was serving as lifeguard at a Pittsburgh waterpark. The rescue, CPR and first aid skills she learned on the job laid the groundwork for her interest in healthcare. Although she enrolled at WVU to study criminology, once she started working as a standardized patient, her career goals transitioned to patient safety education.

“It didn’t take long for me to understand the value of simulation,” she said. “I enjoyed being a part of the experience for our students to learn so much that I decided to apply for the full-time simulation information specialist position.”

The position allowed Katie to continue working with students while helping faculty tailor and enhance coursework through the LearningSpace management system.

“The favorite part about my job has been and always will be our learners. I remember watching some of our students who I had observed since their first year of medical school and were now residents complete very complex tasks. Seeing the positive results of training from our very talented simulation education specialists gave me chills.”

The STEPS team at WVU boasts 10 individuals who have earned the Certified Healthcare Simulation Educator certificate, including Katie. The certification, offered through the Society of Simulation in Healthcare (SSH), enables instructors to provide learners with expert patient safety education. STEPS is the only center in West Virginia to earn SSH accreditation in all five areas, an achievement obtained by less than 3% of the SSH-registered centers in the world.

In addition to CHSE certification, Katie is a certified Basic Life Support instructor, and she teaches BLS to students enrolled in nearly all disciplines offered by WVU’s five health schools – Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy and Public Health.

WVU IPE and STEPS team members with the Mountaineer mascotKatie transitioned to her current roles – project manager for the Office of Interprofessional Education and research coordinator for STEPS – after nearly six years of making connections across the Health Sciences community.

“It was time to put those connections to work for the greater good,” she said. “I learned that it’s estimated that between 44,000 and 98,000 Americans die each year from medical errors, and these errors are largely the result of miscommunications from the care team. There is evidence that interprofessional education can help combat these communication errors.”

Combining her interest in simulation with what she had learned about interprofessional education, Katie’s new role allowed her to lean on the connections she built through STEPS to create collaborative learning experiences that benefit students and their patients and communities.

“IPE and simulation are natural partners. WVU offers unique opportunities for IPE that many other schools cannot accomplish because we have five schools on one Health Sciences Campus along with our fully accredited sim lab (STEPS), plus a multitude of other disciplines on the Morgantown campus that have so much to offer to a care team.”

person teaching a healthcare classKatie’s drive to provide meaningful opportunities for learners led her to pursue a master’s degree in program evaluation and research. A self-described data nerd, she’s able to use her interest in data and quality improvement to support colleagues through data collection, retention and analysis within educational activities.

“I cannot say enough good things about the creativity and care that our faculty and staff put into creating excellent interprofessional simulations for the learners here at WVU. STEPS and the Office of IPE are here to support students throughout their journey, and there are never too many questions to ask of our team.”



CONTACT: Jessica Wilmoth
Senior Communications Specialist
University Relations – Health Sciences