May 7, 2019

Research Grand Round: Debra Nestel

Professor Debra Nestel is passionate about simulation and says she just fell into that space, but feels that we all use simulation as play when we are kids, we just call it something different.

“I got exposed to different types of simulation modalities at the Imperial College in London, where I’ve spent 15 years. There, I was in the Department of Surgery where I was exposed to simulation to teach operative and procedural skills,” she explained.

Together with a colleague, they developed a new approach to simulation to help trainers teach procedural skills.

“For example, if you are learning to stitch, you can do that on a piece of simulated flesh, but what we did was put that piece of simulated flesh on one of the live simulated patients. That is how the clinicians started to integrate not only the psycho-motor skills, but also to be able to communicate effectively with a patient,” she added.

She has been in simulation ever since and has built a successful career.

At Northern Health, her presentation focussed on a couple of key points.

“The simulation is complex – people often talk about simulation like it’s one thing, but it’s actually many things. It’s important that we articulate the type of simulation we are talking about and where we are using it. I’m also speaking about healthcare simulation research and the landscape and selecting pieces that are really interesting,” she added.

“The third point I would like to touch on is that evidence also comes in all shapes and forms. There is theory-based evidence, and also experience-based evidence and we should be open to all those types.”

Professor Peter Brooks, Northern Health Research Lead, added this was a great opportunity to hear and learn from Debra’s expertise, as Northern Health has a simulation laboratory which could be used in new and creative ways.

“Besides student training, we could be doing so many other things and that is what Debra would be talking about today,” he said.

He added that he is looking forward to hearing more about doing research from an educational perspective, adding education is not researched enough.

“Debra is one of the world leaders in this area and based in Melbourne, so we are lucky to have her present. I’d say Victoria, as a state, has more simulation expertise than other states and Northern Health is proud to have a really good facility,” he said.

Debra’s presentation at Northern Health’s Centre for Education and Research included a workshop with our staff, during which they presented case studies, followed by a lecture.

Professor Debra Nestel is a Professor of Simulation Education in Health Care at Monash University, and Professor of Surgical Education, University of Melbourne. For over 25 years, she has used simulation as an educational method in the context of health care. Professor Nestel has a particular interest in human-based simulations and is experienced in research and development of several simulation modalities.