Stacy Williams: SimuCase Education

Sep 24, 2014 by

An Interview with Stacy Williams: SimuCase Education

Michael F. Shaughnessy

1) Stacy, first of all tell us about your education and experience.

  • B.S, M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Cincinnati in speech-language pathology.
  • Adjunct Assistant Professor, Case Western Reserve University in the Communication Sciences and Disorders
  • Chief Operations Officer for Allied Health Media parent company to SpeechPathology.com, AudiologyOnline, OccupationalTherapy.com and PhysicalTherapy.com
  • Started career as a Speech-Language Pathologist for 8+ years Hamilton County Educational Service Center focusing on school-based speech-language pathology and augmentative communication
  • Research focuses on the use of simulation-based technologies for the field of speech- language-pathology
  • Inventor of SimuCase – a patented technology
  • Director of Virtual Immersion Center for Simulation Research at Case Western Reserve University
  • Certified Healthcare Simulation Educator by the Society for Simulations in Healthcare
  • Fellow of the Association Honors by the Ohio Speech-Language-Hearing Association
  • Northern Ohio Live Magazine Award of Achievement for Science and Technology for developing a Virtual Reality Speech Therapy Theater

2) Now tell us about SimuCase. How does this work?

SimuCase is an online simulation tool that uses virtual patients based on real cases. SLP students can work through the assessment process with these virtual patients, complete a case history, collaborate with other professionals, and recommend a diagnosis and possible treatment outcomes — all without the stress of handling a real patient.

Students are provided with feedback throughout the process that measures the strength of their clinical decision making skills in areas such as case history, collaboration, assessment, and diagnosis. Once a case is submitted, students are provided feedback regarding their clinical decision making skills and receive an overall competency score.

Students at Saint Xavier University in Chicago, Illinois, shared the following after using SimuCase:

“It was a great experience and I would definitely recommend it. You can go back and do it as many times as you want, so you can try different things and different tests and see what does and doesn’t work well.

With a real life diagnostic you don’t have the chance to do that. So while going through it I personally made a lot of mistakes, but I learned from them and I think that’s the whole point of this.”

We have had overwhelmingly positive feedback from professors and clinical faculty using this technology. Learning from textbooks with faculty expertise will always be a critical component of an SLP’s education, but simulated case studies have proven to be a useful bridge between acquiring necessary knowledge and skills and working with real life patients.

3) Is it for undergraduates or graduates?

All speech-language pathology students can learn from SimuCase (including professionals!). SimuCase has two simulation modes- Learning or Assessment. In Learning Mode students receive feedback and can monitor their progress as they try to solve a case.  Students can use either mode to hone their skills. They can also focus on one specific area in a case or work the case from start to finish.

4) What does it cost?

The price for an individual SimuCase™ membership is $99. This allows users unlimited access to all virtual patients for twelve months. There is also special faculty/classroom pricing available (contact Clint Johnson at clint@speechpathology.com for pricing information).

5)  Tell us about one of these online cases.

Through SimuCase, a person in training can meet over 14 virtual patients. We are adding 4 new cases each year. Here’s a sample patient:

Doug, age 14, presents with a traumatic brain injury when he was struck in the head by a 100 mph baseball. As a result of his brain injury, Doug demonstrates significant cognitive, physical, and communication deficits.  Prior to his injury, Doug was a model student, excelling in all academic areas. He is being referred to all SLP students for an evaluation since he is ready to leave his rehabilitation facility and resume his academic studies at his local high school.  Students are asked to evaluate Doug’s communication skills to begin to transition his therapy services to the school based speech-language pathologist.

Students must interact with Doug by typing in questions and selecting questions that are pertinent to his case.  They must identify key collaborators for his case that were involved with his initial phase of treatment both in the hospital and rehabilitation setting. By selecting age appropriate assessments and interpreting their respective results, students will determine his overall diagnosis and make recommendations for future speech-language therapy.

6) What about feedback from a supervisor?

Yes, feedback is definitely recommended. The most critical component of simulation-based education is the pre-brief and debriefing process that the faculty provide while students are working on the cases.  While SimuCase is able to provide a variety of patient case studies, the faculty are needed to help guide and shape the student experiences to determine those areas where students can use additional support and reinforce positive clinical behaviors that are already established.

7) How many universities are using SimuCase?

There are over 45 universities throughout the country and this continues to grow.

8) Do you have plans to produce more cases?

Yes, we plan to produce three to four cases every year. Currently, we are focusing on adult cases.

9) How is a case created?

Cases are submitted by practicing clinicians from around the country. The cases are actual clients of speech-language pathologists working in university, school, hospital or private settings. Once a case is created, two expert reviewers check the content of the case and review the scoring.

10) Do you have a website where people can get more information?

www.simucase.com

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