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Institute for the Study of Behavioral Health and Addiction

The Institute for the Study of Behavioral Health and Addiction hosted the first annual prevention training institute at Boise State University on August 17. The training was funded by a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Block Grant funded by the Idaho Office of Drug Policy. The prevention training was attended by professional counselors, social workers, nurses and prevention specialists from across the state.
The substance abuse prevention workshops focused on using local substance use statistics to inform prevention program planning, understanding the impact of substance use on the adolescent brain, and ethics for counselors and other professionals working in the prevention field.

Counting the Dead — Royce Hutson Researches New Methodology for Crisis Surveys

An alley covered in graffiti in Lebanon

An alley covered in graffiti in Beirut, Lebanon. Photo: Royce Hutson

Famine, war, disease—headlines from the crisis areas of the world may sound familiar, but the study of the people affected by these events may not always be so easily recognized. Often, international relief efforts are tied to reactions to the death toll, which begs an important, if morbid, question: how do you count casualties?

Studio portrait of Royce Hutson

Royce Hutson, Associate Professor at Boise State University, School of Social Work

Royce Hutson, an associate professor with Boise State’s School of Social Work, is working to provide a better answer to that question.

In April, Hutson returned from a trip to Beirut, Lebanon, where he worked with colleagues on a proposal to examine the methodologies for counting mortalities and health outcomes in crisis environments. His work in Beirut is aimed at reducing the number of hours of human labor it takes to complete crisis surveys, and increasing survey accuracy.

These numbers are important, Hutson said, because crisis survey data has a direct relationship on the international community’s response. If a death count goes underreported, there may not be enough aid generated to help those suffering, but an inaccurately high count might divert resources from other crisis areas or hurt the credibility of the organizations involved in relief efforts.

“You can easily over or underestimate mortality if your sample is skewed in any fashion,” said Hutson.

The Challenges of Data Collection in Crisis Surveys

Crisis surveys typically center around in-person interviews with those affected by the crisis—but arranging in-person meetings can be a challenge in terms of how to interview a person who has survived a crisis, and in selecting exactly who to meet with.

The first concern, handling respondents with care and respect, does come with a certain protocol. Hutson said it’s important to leave personal questions about sensitive topics, like sexual assault, until the end. This helps build trust with the respondent, as do assurances that participation is voluntary and answers are not forced.

“You have to train your interviewers to be empathic, essentially,” said Hutson. “You build a rapport with the respondent, and remind them constantly that they don’t have to answer if they don’t want to.”

Sign that says "Boise World Refugee Day"

A sign at Boise World Refugee Day – Boise is home to many refugees, many of whom fled disasters and cannot return home. Photo: Maxine Durand

Hutson said it’s always stated in crisis survey results that the number of people affected is almost certainly an undercount, since many people either don’t participate or choose not to give certain information because it’s too personal or traumatic to talk about.

As for selecting people for interviews, this seemingly simple task carries a lot of debate over just how it should be done. Typically, Hutson said, many researchers would use a version of the “spin the pen” method, wherein they would travel to a geographic center point—say, the middle of a large city—and literally spin a pen. The researchers would then count out the houses along the line the pen points to, and select which houses to visit from this pool randomly.

Hutson said the pen method became common practice in the 1970s, under the Expanded Programme on Immunization, or EPI—but by the 80s, problems with this means of sampling had already become apparent. Not being truly random, the pen method tends to favor houses closer to the center of the selected area, and can also skew results when considering density—a crowded apartment block and a large ranch with one domicile would both appear as only one building, but the people living in each could vary significantly in number and along demographic lines.

“Even given these fundamental flaws, the approach has been used, with some modifications, knowing that these issues exist,” said Hutson.

These challenges make it difficult enough for crisis researchers, but even if the interviews are accurately selected and conducted with care, it’s still difficult to produce accurate results if there is no baseline data to compare to—typically, areas where there is little to no information on a population from before a crisis occurred.

Researchers look for natural death rate—the rate at which people in the crisis area typically die in a given time period—and compare it to the death rate after the crisis. The difference, called the “excess death,” is a primary metric in determining just how severe any particular crisis is

Developed countries like the United States have the benefit of data from public records, like birth and death certificates, and stable infrastructure such as the phone lines used to conduct traditional surveys. In many crisis areas, however, the records needed to accurately measure casualties may no longer be accessible, or may not have been collected at all. Without a solid body of data to compare to, it’s next to impossible to see how far off a survey’s results are from the actual underlying characteristics of the selected population.

Map that is using pins to demonstrate where families in Boise immigrated from

A map with pins to show where families in Boise immigrated from – many of these families were displaced persons. Photo: Maxine Durand

“Traditionally in the United States, if you were doing a political poll, for example, you would have information on demographics,” said Hutson. “To know if survey results are disproportionate, you would need to know that information.”

This puts crisis responders—who are often tasked with performing crisis surveys instead of trained, professional researchers—in a difficult position, where the resources they need from the international community are dependent upon data collection that could be inaccurate or incomplete.

“To expect that a humanitarian organization in a crisis area is going to have access to this high-level survey modeling software, I think is a bit too big of an ask for a lot of these organizations,” said Hutson.

A Better Methodology for Crisis Surveys

After the Haitian coup in 2004, Hutson was part of a study in Port au Prince, investigating human rights violations. Hutson and his research assistant looked at several different approaches when trying to estimate how many people had been affected, and they found the EPI’s spin-the-pen approach to be inadequate.

Instead, they used GPS to randomly select starting points within population centers—Hutson said this approach seemed novel at the time, but this utilization of GPS didn’t account for population density. A single-family house, an apartment building, or a ranch would all appear as similar data points, even though the number of people living at each type of address would be vary greatly.

Since then, Hutson and his colleagues have compensated for this disparity by creating a geocoded map of their GPS coordinates, and counted the number of households in each building—interviews were then randomly selected from each household, instead of each building.

Hutson said the research has benefited from advances in computing, since it’s now much easier to use a computer algorithm to list all of the buildings in a population center, and then weigh them against households for random sampling. It’s also simpler to identify the buildings thanks to improvements in digital mapping technology.

“Now, mapping is so good that we can identify all buildings within a given area,” said Hutson. “Before, we’ve literally had someone with a map asking, ‘Is that a building?’”

View of Hamra street in Lebanon

Hamra Street in Beirut, Lebanon. Photo: Royce Hutson

Hutson’s current work in Beirut is an experiment designed to compare the geocoding approach versus other traditional sampling methods. The Syrian refugee camps in Lebanon provide a perfect test environment, since there is already extensive monitoring and because the camps approximate the immediate aftermath of a crisis, minus the inherent security risks of being in a crisis area.

“The camps in Lebanon are extraordinarily safe, relatively speaking,” said Hutson. “Most of the health outcomes are fairly well-known, so we can compare what we get… with what the health ministry is giving.”

Hutson said he wants to carry out similar testing in multiple crisis situations around the world in order to see which approach is more accurate, but also which is more efficient in terms of time and cost. Ideally, by using off-the-shelf freeware and Google maps, similar research could be conducted by on-the-ground non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to get numbers they need to plan for prioritization and resource allocation.

“The sampling is just so much easier,” said Hutson. “In the case of some mass crisis and if there was a lot of internally displaced persons, then it could be helpful.”

Crisis Surveys and Indirect Impact

In 2017, there were over 17 million internally displaced persons—people who are forced to leave their homes because of a crisis event, but remain in their home country. This was almost double the number of displaced persons who left their countries and became refugees.

Hutson said there is only a handful of researchers working in this field, and he can usually recognize most of their names when they publish. Currently, he is working with colleagues in Canada, Brazil, and Lebanon, who all routinely perform crisis surveys, and funding for their work usually comes from governments outside the countries affected by crisis. Often, governments either don’t have the funds to sponsor a crisis survey when disasters happen, and sometimes, Hutson said, they would rather not know the results, and can be reticent about supporting these kinds of programs.

The amount of aid sent to crisis centers has a direct impact on how effective relief efforts will be, and how much suffering is mitigated—the number of lives affected, and the number of deaths, and the number of displaced persons can only go up if the international community ignores a crisis, or doesn’t give it the attention it needs. This is obviously a huge impact for places like Syria since the civil war began, but it also affects other countries that take in refugees—countries like the United States, and specifically, places within the US such as Idaho, which have fairly prominent refugee resettlement programs.

Boise's Plaza on World Refugee Day hosting hundreds of people

Boise’s Grove Plaza on World Refugee Day – Boise is home to displaced persons from around the globe. Photo: Maxine Durand

This makes it all the more important to be able to produce accurate data when resources are available to conduct surveys. During his work in Port au Prince, for example, Hutson said there was an estimated excess death of 8,000 in the first two years after the coup—which is a lot of people, but a small number in proportion to the 1.5 to 2 million people living in the city at the time. Hutson said that if survey results are skewed towards areas more prone to violence, like in a densely-populated city, the survey would have a much higher estimate of mortality, or vice-versa in areas less prone to violence.

“It’s one thing to say 8,000 people died,” said Hutson. “But if I said only 500 people died, the response from international actors will be quite meager.”

Dr. Hutson can be reached during office hours at the School of Social Work. Questions or comments about this article can be referred to the school’s main office line, (208) 426-1568.

RADAR Center Continues to Bring Information on Substance Abuse to the Idaho Community

Despite budget cuts, Boise State’s Idaho Regional Alcohol Drug Awareness Resource (RADAR) Center continues to educate the community about substance use and abuse. The center continues to thrive as staff has maintained and expanded their collection of information in the center and online.

Located in the Chrisway Annex, the RADAR Center is administered by the Institute for the Study of Behavioral Health and Addiction; a partnership between the College of Education and the College of Health Sciences. It provides free information about alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs to the community. The Center includes a video lending library of over 900 titles and functions as a statewide information clearinghouse and resource referral center. Materials are provided free of charge to all Idaho residents and are well used for drug use prevention and education programs and agencies, including schools, law enforcement, treatment programs, etc.. “This is an area for someone to come and gather information, and it’s all free,” said Dan Arnold, director for the RADAR Center. “Everything in this building is free including the smiles on our faces.”

The RADAR Center’s two employees also offer online trainings, provides insight on evidence-based programs, and attends events statewide. These resources are very pertinent for students on campus, as many students are exposed to drugs and alcohol for the first time in their lives. “If experimentation is something you’re interested in doing, educate yourself. Look at all the possible ramifications before sticking your toe in the water,” said Arnold.

Budget cuts to the program took place over the academic year 17-18 due to losing the Millennium fund. These reductions to the budget resulted in a cut back of the center’s hours to three days a week (Monday-Wednesday) from 9am to 5pm. Due to these changes, Arnold and his staff found it necessary to make more of their information available online through their website and social media, ensuring the community that a budget decrease will not impact the Center’s ability to deliver information and services. The center continues to run effectively thanks to the staff who work diligently to advance the delivery of their content.

Read more about the RADAR Center in the Arbiter.

Uwe Reischl Presents on Reducing Smoke Build-Up in Kenyan Rural Kitchens

Uwe ReischlUwe Reischl, professor for the School of Allied Health Sciences Department of Community and Environmental Health, presented a research paper at the 2018 International Applied Human Factors and Ergonomics Conference in Orlando, Florida, July 22-26.

The presentation, “Ergonomic Design Solution for Reducing Smoke Build-Up inside Rural Kitchens in Kenya,” provided new findings based on laboratory simulations evaluating the thermodynamic properties of “cool smoke” created by open fires in rural kitchens in Kenya. The research revealed that by increasing natural ventilation in the kitchens, the limited vertical convective forces created by the heat of an open fire prevents the resulting smoke from exiting the indoor space. Identifying this phenomenon helped explain why rural families in Kenya have historically limited natural ventilation in their kitchens and have endured high levels of indoor air pollution. The findings will help support the implementation of better indoor smoke removal methods.

The conference presentation and the associated research paper were co-authored with Olga Salinas, academic advisor in the College of Health Sciences.

Susan Esp Chosen as Fulbright Specialist in Malaysia

Susan Espby Maxine Durand 

They say travel is good for the soul, but cross-cultural exchange can also be beneficial for public health.

Susan Esp, an associate professor with the School of Social Work, has been selected to be a Fulbright specialist in Malaysia, where she is hosting a series of workshops on psychological intervention in addiction treatment.

“It’s one of the leading causes of death in our society, across the world,” said Esp. “We talk about diabetes, we talk about cancer… we’ve been talking about suicide a little bit more, because it’s been in the national headlines, but the majority of suicides I know were also substance abusers.”

Esp said the focus of addiction studies is to approach the client with acceptance and respect, rather than judgement, shame, or marginalization. She said she wasn’t sure of what kinds of challenges she will find in Malaysia, where there can be many cultural and religious backgrounds with differing ideas on how to handle substance abuse—and while this kind of evidence-based practice is usually required as a part of the process for seeking government funding in the United States, that doesn’t mean that it’s always being done here, either.

Esp’s Focus on Motivational Interviewing

People tend to have a reason for the things they do, or in this case, for the chemicals they use. Esp said that it’s important to understand these reasons, as well as the unique characteristics of the client, in order to help them—but stigma around substance abuse and older attitudes toward treating it can make this difficult.

“When I first entered the addictions field, I was one of those people, we used to say, ‘Oh, they just have to hit rock bottom,’” said Esp. “That never worked for me—I thought we should give people the opportunity to talk about change, and to talk also about why they don’t want to.”

Getting the client to change through their own determination to do so, rather than by command, is a key component in Esp’s lesson plan during her trip. Known as “motivational interviewing,” or MI, the clinician takes a person where they are with no judgement, shame, or blame, and the client is responsible for change, not the clinician—the client does the majority of the talking, while the clinician identifies and amplifies talk of change.

“If I go into the doctor’s office and they say, ‘Susan, you have high cholesterol, you need to go home and do this and this and this,’ that doesn’t tend to work,” said Esp. “They would have to ask me, ‘how do you feel about your cholesterol, would you like to do anything about that, have you tried anything in the past.”

MI is increasingly important worldwide, but even in America, where Millennials are dying younger than their counterparts in other developed countries, and where the opioid epidemic is in full swing. Esp said even a reduction in harm, such as a client committing to less consumption of addictive substances, is better than no commitment from the client at all—and people tend to be more receptive to gradual reduction over time than they are to an abstinence-only approach.

While Esp has travelled extensively throughout southeast Asia, she has never previously been to Malaysia, and said she fully expects to come back changed. She said the trip is the culmination of 25 years of combined professional experience, which she is eager to share with her new host country. Esp said her career has led her through a somewhat nontraditional trajectory into teaching, and her unique background was what originally pushed her to pursue the Fulbright opportunity.

“One of the things that drew me to this particular call was that I had been working in the substance abuse field as a clinician for about 15 years prior to teaching courses,” said Esp. “When I read this, I thought they wrote it for me.”

Esp will return from Malaysia in August, and will resume instruction at Boise State in spring of 2019.

Celebrate Juni Eichelberger and Diana “Dee” Tracy’s Retirement

Celebrate two of Health Services’ finest – Juni Eichelberger and Diana “Dee” Tracy – at their retirement breakfast. The celebration is from 8:00 – 9:30 am on Wednesday, August 8 in the Health Services lobby, on the second floor of the Norco building.

Juni EichelbergerEichelberger has worked at Boise State for 22 years in several departments including the School of Nursing before joining University Health Services. She performs various administrative tasks from data entry, placing office supply orders and mail delivery for various departments and enjoys people and knows the importance of a listening ear. She grew up in Idaho, attended Boise State University and has lived in multiple states, including California, Washington, and North Dakota. In her free time, Eichelberger enjoys live theater, working on home decor design projects, and spending quality time with family.

Diana "Dee" TracyTracy earned a business administration degree with an emphasis in accounting from Boise State in 2007. She has over 40 years of work experience in the accounting field and has worked at Boise State for 10 years. Prior to joining Health Services, she worked in various industries including retail, small-medium businesses, and the construction industry. Tracy manages the accounting process for Health Services, helps process the insurance payments, and assists the business manager with various projects.  She enjoys solving the daily account puzzles that arise, working with her fantastic co-workers, and visiting with students. In her free time, she enjoys watercolor painting, scrapbooking, sewing, crafts, reading and fishing.

Five Health Sciences Faculty Awarded $20,000 for Pilot Research Projects

The College of Health Sciences Office of Research in conjunction with the college’s Dean’s Office is proud to award five research faculty applicants $20,000 each from the Intramural Pilot Project Program, better known as IP³. The grant monies will assist in piloting or expanding their current research projects for the next year. Projects include identification of patients at high risk for pressure injuries; prevention, treatment and rehabilitation strategies of knee injuries in Armed Services personnel; the effects of an agricultural chemical on human development; preventing and treating Alzheimer’s Disease through exercise; and how social conforms influence a mother’s ability/willingness to breast feed her baby for the recommended length of time.

The funds will aid researchers in enhancing their research agendas and subsequently increasing the faculty’s opportunities to receive funding from distinguished organizations such as the National Institutes of Health and the United States Department of Defense.

Below are the names of the faculty and more detail about their IP³ pilot projects:

Jenny Alderden

Jenny Alderden

Jenny Alderden, assistant professor in School of Nursing – “Pressure Injury Risk Prediction among Critical Care Patients: A Machine Learning Approach.” Pressure injuries, formally called pressure ulcers, are localized areas of injury to skin and/or underlying tissue that occur as a result of pressure caused from long-term immobility. Hospital acquired pressure injuries occur among 6 to 10 percent of surgical critical-care patients in the United States and result in longer hospitalization, increased disease or complications, and human suffering. Though pressure injuries are common, some can be prevented using measures that are not feasible for every patient due to cost. Alderden’s goal is to test and calibrate a model that will allow critical care nurses to identify patients at high risk for pressure injuries so that preventative measures that are not feasible for every patient can be directed toward highest risk patients.

Tyler Brown, Center Co-Director

Tyler Brown

Tyler Brown, assistant professor, School of Allied Health Sciences Department of Kinesiology – “Biomechanical Analysis to Prevent and Treat the Increasing Incidence of Knee Osteoarthritis.” Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common, costly musculoskeletal disease that results in chronic pain, loss of joint function, and long-term disability. OA development is increasing, especially in the knees among U.S. Armed Services members and others in physically demanding occupations. This disease prevents service members from returning to active duty and can ultimately lead to medical discharge. Brown’s work will use an experimental approach to determine links between knee joint instability and body borne load. This approach will lead to the development of an algorithm that will quantitatively assess knee joint instability. Brown’s research has potential for the development of new prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation strategies for knee osteoarthritis in military personnel.

Cynthia Curl

Cynthia Curl

Cynthia Curl, assistant professor, School of Allied Health Sciences Department of Community and Environmental Health – “Development of an AREA R15 Proposal to Assess Agriculture and Dietary Exposure to Glyphosate among Pregnant Women.” Glyphosate is the single most common agriculture chemical in the world and has been declared a probable human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Recent toxicological studies have further suggested potential neurologic and developmental effects of glyphosate exposure at environmentally-relevant levels. However, despite its extensive use, frequent presence in food and environmental media and potential toxicity, current exposure levels in human populations are not well‐documented. Curl seeks to generate pilot data regarding glyphosate exposure among a potentially vulnerable population, a cohort of pregnant women recruited from the Treasure Valley of Idaho. Given the rapid and substantial increase in production and application of this herbicide in the past two decades, it is crucial to evaluate human exposures to glyphosate and to understand the pathways through which this exposure occurs.

Stephanie Hall

Stephanie Hall

Stephanie Hall, clinical assistant professor, School of Allied Health Sciences Department of Kinesiology – “Protective Effects of Exercise in a Transgenic Rat Model of Alzheimer’s Disease.” Over five million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and that number is expected to rise to 16 million by 2050. Currently there is no cure or even a treatment to slow its progression, however, exercise has proven to reduce the risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease. Several studies have linked exercise to improved cognition and increased brain volume in Alzheimer’s disease. While human testing has successfully linked exercise with markers of improved brain function, the tests have not identified the mechanisms behind the protection. A rat strain has recently been developed that displays a complete repertoire of Alzheimer’s disease pathological features. Hall intends to establish a timeline of the exercise-induced protection against Alzheimer’s disease in this novel cross animal or transgenic model of Alzheimer’s disease. Hall plans to use her background in the field of exercise physiology to reach her broad research goal of using exercise as a tool to prevent and treat disease.

Ellen Schafer

Ellen Schafer

Ellen Schafer, assistant professor, School of Allied Health Sciences Department of Community and Environmental Health –  “Contextualizing mothers’ infant feeding environments: A social network approach to understanding perspectives of mothers and their network members.” Due to health implications across the life course for infants and mothers, leading experts recommend exclusively breastfeeding infants for the first six months of life with continued breastfeeding for the first year or two. While the majority of mothers in the United States initiate breastfeeding, most do not maintain for the recommended durations. Schafer’s research objective is to understand how social context and social network influences may affect infant feeding, breastfeeding, and infant care behaviors.  She believes that understanding social mechanisms associated with infant feeding will positively change the current culture surrounding the topic, resulting in a higher rate of adherence to expert recommendations and advance health within families and the community.

The IP³ program coincides with the college’s strategic plan and goal to expand research productivity. The college plans to publish intermittent updates and progress of the research projects.

Robert Wood Joins Boise State as School of Allied Health Sciences Director

Robert Wood

Robert Wood

Robert Wood will be the next director of the School of Allied Health Sciences. Wood will begin the directorship at the end of July. Wood comes to Boise State from New Mexico State University where he has been a professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Dance. He served as the department’s academic head from 2009 to 2017.

“We are excited to have Dr. Wood join us as director of the School of Allied Health Sciences,” said Tim Dunnagan, dean of the College of Health Sciences. “In addition to his leadership experience, he brings enthusiasm and a passion for supporting the success of faculty, staff and students. He will be a great asset to the college.”

Wood earned his bachelor’s degree in biology and physical education from the State University of New York – Cortland and both his master of science degree in health, physical education, recreation and dance and his doctorate in kinesiology at Louisiana State University. He has been a faculty member at Louisiana State and Husson University prior to New Mexico State and worked as a clinical exercise physiologist at the Baton Rouge General Medical Center before teaching in higher education full time.

Wood’s research interests relate primarily to aging, physical function, and disability. In addition, he has a particular interest in the aging of the autonomic nervous system and its relationship to functional decline in late life. His research has been supported by a number of federal agencies and private foundations including the National Institute on Aging and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“I am very excited to join this talented group of faculty, staff and students in the School of  Allied Health Sciences,” said Wood. “Access to excellent healthcare and disease prevention is among our greatest needs and responsibilities. I look forward to the challenges ahead.”

Lutana Haan: First College of Health Sciences Assistant Dean

Lutana Haan

Lutana Haan

Lutana Haan is the College of Health Sciences’ first assistant dean. Haan is an associate professor and chair for the School of Allied Health Sciences Department of Respiratory Care. The assistant dean position is a half-time, allowing Haan to continue in her role as chair for respiratory care.

“We are so happy to have Lutana join the college’s administration team,” said Tim Dunnagan, dean of the College of Health Sciences. “Her years of experience in higher education, proven leadership attributes, and desire and ability to work collaboratively with individuals and groups made her the right fit for this position.”

Haan has a bachelor of science degree and a master of health science degree from Boise State. She is currently working on completing her doctorate in educational leadership at the University of New England in Portland, Maine. Haan is a Registered Respiratory Therapist and a Registered Polysomnographic Technician. Before coming to Boise State she worked in sleep medicine primarily diagnosing obstructive sleep apnea in the pediatric through geriatric populations.

Haan’s teaching and research interests include sleep medicine, high fidelity simulation and using mobile technology in the classroom and in clinical settings. Haan’s creativeness has involved her in several medical device innovation opportunities. She has collaborated with engineering students on the redesign of a crash cart that’s used in healthcare settings when advanced life support is needed. In early 2012 she filed her first patent application, titled “Flow-Inflating Face Mask Interface for Noninvasive Positive Pressure Ventilation,” with Lonny Ashworth, professor for respiratory care, and Uwe Reischl, professor for the Department of Community and Environmental Health.

“We are a diverse college with a history of high-quality programs and, in my experience, we consistently take an innovative approach to the future,” said Haan. “I am proud to be a Bronco and especially proud to be part of the College of Health Sciences. I look forward to serving in this much-needed role to help continue growing and moving our college forward.”

Boise State Simulation Team Selected as Winner of International Award

Boise State Simulation Team

Boise State Nursing Simulation Team

In June, the Boise State Simulation Team was honored at the International Nursing Association for Clinical Simulation and Learning (INACSL) conference for their Simulation Program. The team was selected as the winner of the prestigious 2017-2018 Frontline Simulation Champions Excellence Award for providing exceptional simulation education for undergraduate and graduate students as well as education and consultation for faculty throughout the nation. The award acknowledges a hard working individual and/or team that demonstrates exemplary dedication in the day-to-day implementation of simulation, going beyond the ordinary to demonstrate extraordinary in the delivery of simulation-based learning in academic, healthcare institution, or community settings.

The INACSL’s mission is to advance the science of healthcare simulation, while striving towards a vision of being a global leader in transforming practice to improve patient safety through excellence in healthcare simulation. Kathryn Whitcomb, INACSL Awards Committee Member is quoted saying the “Boise State Simulation Team demonstrates excellence and dedication in healthcare simulation. In a category with many applicants, your team has demonstrated excellence with your wonderful accomplishments, projects and work toward improving students’ learning experiences through simulation. Keep up the wonderful work!”

Faculty members Kim Copeland and Janet Willhaus travelled to Toronto, Canada to accept the award on behalf of the program. The Boise State Simulation program uses the INACSL standards and Society for Simulation in Healthcare (SSH) accreditation guidelines to offer simulation education to nursing, respiratory care, and radiologic science students. Three years ago the team selected a shared debriefing model after a year of studying various options. This commitment to collective excellence in simulation facilitation resulted in deeper learning and more consistent debriefing sessions. The team shares its simulation expertise with others through formal education (Graduate Certificate in Healthcare Simulation), a biennial conference with the National League for Nursing, and consultations to other schools.

“Boise State students are indeed fortunate to have such an organized and well-run simulation program,” said Janet Richards, assistant professor in the Department of Nursing at Montana Tech. “Their center is accredited and seven of their faculty and staff are certified healthcare simulation educators. We hope to model our program after their example and will continue to maintain close ties under their mentorship.  With their Graduate program in Healthcare Simulation, they are helping simulation faculty and program managers across the nation learn about simulation. They are reaching out to programs throughout the west to help spearhead evidence-based simulation methods and I am confident that their visionary leadership will continue to advance simulation.”