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Empower Novices to Prioritize and Decide

The constant change and improvements in medical care creates a significant challenge. How healthcare providers make decisions and prioritize is evolving and improving at a rapid pace. New medical technology, procedures, communication best practices, insurance rules, and reporting requirements demand change in how people provide healthcare. The role of staff is critical to the transformation taking place in healthcare today.

What is the best way to adapt and develop decision-making skills and prioritization methods? My belief is that relevant experiences are the key to developing experts. Experiences enable the brain to store cues, problem solving techniques, and patterns in long term memory to be retrieved in the right context. Experiences are relevant when they enable interaction through a spectrum of relevant problem solving events including practice and feedback. Virtual simulation is a low risk approach to providing relevant experiences that enhance decision-making and prioritization in areas like medical care procedures, patient satisfaction approaches, and team work.

The virtual simulation learning approach is strongly influenced by Experiential Learning Theory. Experiential Learning Theory emphasizes personalized instruction in line with each adult learners needs. According to the theory, each item learned has to relate to something each person has already experienced, reinforce how the new knowledge is currently being practiced, and identify what actions can be taken to learn more or put the knowledge to work in some way.

Adult learners learn differently than young learners. Life experiences for each individual person impact learning goals. Everybody is starting from a different base of knowledge – some of which might be wrong. As you implement your virtual simulation plan to provide experiences in decision-making and prioritization, here are some topics to consider:

  • Adults are goal-oriented, but each adult will likely have different goals.

  • The learning needs to relate to what the learners already know and find relevant. Understanding what will make the program personal will help the adults to learn. The location, culture, and make-up of the hospital staff will influence how people will need to be exposed to new information and how to best adapt and evolve that information for an improved process.

  • Gaining and retaining adult attention will be difficult. Most people are torn among varying responsibilities and therefore none of the training should give the impression of being irrelevant. The educational content must seem personalized so that the learner can explore at their convenience and interest level. The training must be placed in the learner’s world view, not the facilitator’s.

  • The training must be respectful of the fact that an adult’s life experiences and past education places these learners in a different position than the traditional student. Adults deserve respect and a way to contribute their own experiences to the topic and enhance learning for all.

  • Adults are not comfortable with failing. Adults tend to shy away from experiences where they feel they will be judged or graded. Adults seek opportunities to prepare and practice in order to build confidence.

Virtual simulation can be used to practice frequently occurring scenarios in your facility and make sure the whole team is familiar with accepted procedures. If there are areas for improvement, virtual simulation can help with focused tutoring in a non-threatening, private mode of learning. Virtual simulation can also offer a great launching point for group discussion. Training simulations allow healthcare professionals to face complex, critical decisions and priorities in a controlled environment that helps staff adopt change faster.

Thanks for reading. Please share with colleagues who might find value. This post was authored by Discovery Machine, creators of RESITE for Healthcare. RESITE enables healthcare professionals to quickly and easily create realistic training scenarios for their healthcare trainees—complete with digital doctors, nurses, patients, medical equipment, beds, rooms—everything found in a hospital setting. RESITE places trainees into an immersive 3D environment that helps them learn faster and see the cause/effect relationship of their decisions and hands-on interaction in real time. With over 16 years in the industry Discovery Machine delivers powerful, proven technology with a friendly, accessible front-end that translates to successful training programs empowered with intelligent interaction.


Kolb, A., & Kolb, D. (2009). Experiential Learning Theory: A Dynamic, Holistic Approach to Management Learning, Education and Development. The SAGE Handbook of Management Learning, Education and Development, 42-68.

Conner, M. (2007). Introduction to Adult Learning. Retrieved September 29, 2015, from

Pellegrino, J., & Hilton, M. (Eds.). (2012). Education for Life and Work: Developing Transferable Knowledge and Skills in the 21st Century. National Research Council of the National Academics. Retrieved from

Yamazaki, Y. (2005). Learning styles and typologies of cultural differences: A theoretical and empirical comparison. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 29(5), 521-548. doi:10.1016/j.ijintrel.2005.07.006

McCarthy, P, & McCarthy, H. (2006). When Case Studies Are Not Enough: Integrating Experiential Learning Into Business Curricula. Journal Of Education For Business, 81(4), 201-204.

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