Imagine that your job is to apply makeup depicting a serious wound on a person or mannequin that looks so realistic, it will be treated as an authentic injury. Or you have to program a computerized mannequin to give birth, with complications, which must be interpreted and understood by the healthcare professional or team in order to deliver the baby safely. Or you have to establish a scenario with actors/role-players who will demonstrate mysterious medical symptoms that a resident will have to figure out and treat before deadly complications arise.

These are just some of the roles of a Healthcare Simulations Operations Specialist. If it sounds more like a day on the set of “Grey’s Anatomy,” it should.

“To get them to really immerse themselves we have to build a fictional contract with them and create an environment of trust.”

Real-world simulations

In fact, Jamie Stiner, a simulations operations specialist at the University of Texas Southwestern, found herself actually on the set of “Grey’s Anatomy” one day, showing their production team how to program some of their simulation software.

“It’s very similar,” she said of the skills applied on a Hollywood soundstage or a healthcare simulation center. “We have to set the stage. The participants are nervous. To get them to really immerse themselves we have to build a fictional contract with them and create an environment of trust.”

Simulation Operations Specialist (SOS) is a broad job category for healthcare professionals who operate all aspects of simulation procedures. SOS embodies many different roles including simulation technician, simulation technology specialist, simulation specialist, simulation coordinator and simulation AV specialist.

Healthcare simulation is itself a growing specialty, one in which medical students and current healthcare professionals are trained through realistic scenarios that replace the need to train on actual patients.

Research has shown that this is a safer, more effective way to prepare professionals for real-life medical situations.

Ground level

Simulation operations is a hybrid of technical and medical skills. Because it is not well-known and healthcare simulation is rapidly growing, jobs are in abundance.

“This field gives me the opportunity to train healthcare professionals who care for patients every day,” Stiner continued. “Each healthcare simulation education is different, allowing for a lot of creativity.”

The Society for Simulation in Healthcare has created a certification, the CHSOS (Certified Healthcare Simulation Operations Specialist), that sets a standard and defines competence in the field. Today, there are 180 people certified as a CHSOS.