The Great “Zoom Boom”: Challenges Faced and Lessons Learned

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  • Tonya Martino - WWAMI Institute for Simulation in Healthcare (WISH), UW Medicine Seattle
  • Megan Sherman - WWAMI Institute for Simulation in Healthcare (WISH), UW Medicine Seattle
  • Farrah Leland - WWAMI Institute for Simulation in Healthcare (WISH), UW Medicine Seattle



Team based learning and simulation is a vital aspect of healthcare education. From students to seasoned professionals, research shows providing immediate application and practice of team skills in a team setting, benefits long term retention and use of new skills in future practice. What happens when in-person simulation based practice opportunities unexpectedly become impossible?

We have all experienced a forced migration to a virtual environment. This pivot was no more substantially felt than in education. As schools and faculty scrambled to shift to online learning, we questioned if we could bring the same level of experiential learning to our virtual learners. How does one train tasks/procedures, let alone team performance and communication, when team members aren’t in the same space? Pedagogically, we know interaction and engagement are crucial to the learning experience. Historically, in-person learning for our TeamSTEPPS Master Training Program provided didactic training with hands-on practice with simulation and group activities, allowing for increased knowledge of teachings. In the virtual world, team members can feel disengaged and distanced from the content making it vital and more challenging, to foster an experiential learning.

With the American Hospital Association’s support, our UW team developed, trialed, and refined a new model for our established program. Transitioning a 2 day in-person, hands on session, to a 9 week fully virtual offering. Beginning our 4th cohort of this longitudinal model pilot program, early results are promising that redesigned offerings are potentially more beneficial for retention and application. We will share strategies, lessons learned, unexpected bright spots, and serendipitous flexibility of starting from scratch.



How does one even begin to train on team performance and communication, when the team members aren’t even in the same space? As a simulation center, we based our education in experiential learning – how could we possibly begin to replicate that in an online setting?


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With the American Hospital Association’s support, our UW team developed, trialed, and refined a new model for the established Master Training Program. Transitioning a two-day in-person, hands on session, to a nine-week fully virtual offering. The revised longitudinal model of learning has been found to achieve a high level of proficiency and increased knowledge retention based on the opportunity for real just-in-time use of the new content over the extended period of learning. Beginning out 4th cohort of this pilot program, early results are promising that the redesigned offerings have been potentially even more beneficial for ongoing retention and application of content.


We discovered that by restructuring and reordering much of our content, we were able to streamline delivery while also filling gaps that had existed for years in the 2 day in-person content. Our 2-Day session, had become a 9 week virtual program, with weekly asynchronous material, supplemented by a 90 minute “application of skills” focused live session, and punctuated with online discussion for healthcare professionals.