Assistant Professor and Healthcare Simulation Certificate Facilitator, School of Nursing
Janet Willhaus is a nurse educator and simulation scholar with an interest in stress associated with learning and patient care activities. Willhaus began using simulation as a teaching and training method while serving as a US Army Reserve Nurse Corp officer and later transferred that skill to teaching with simulation in nursing. She is currently the Facilitator of Simulation Research for the Boise State University Health Science Simulation Center. She also spearheaded the development of the Graduate Healthcare Simulation Certificate program at Boise State. Prior to moving to Boise State in 2013, Willhaus was mentored by international simulation research expert Suzan Kardong-Edgren, at Washington State University. She also directed the Ft. Hays State University nursing’s simulation laboratory in Hays, Kansas, from 2005-2008.
In 2011, Willhaus was selected as the first ever pre-doctoral fellowship as the National League for Nursing (NLN) Simulation Scholar in Residence. She spent a year working at the NLN headquarters in New York City and traveled around the nation mentoring nursing faculty on evidence-based practices in simulation pedagogy. In 2012, Willhaus was named an NLN Jonas Scholar by the Jonas Foundation and received dissertation funding support. She also taught in the landmark National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) study which provided support for the use of simulation as a substitute for clinical practice in nursing students. In 2015, Willhaus was the program planning director for the International Nursing Association of Clinical Simulation and Learning conference in Atlanta attended by 850 people.
Willhaus’ research is unique in nursing because she uses stress biomarkers isolated from saliva samples to detect stress fluctuations in participants. She is also interested in how these physiological stress measures correlate with a participant’s self-report of stress during learning and patient care activities. She has a strong interest in interprofessional education and included participants from six different health science education programs her dissertation work. She continues to support the National League for Nursing by in speaking and teaching at various conferences and she volunteers for other national organizations which promote nursing education and research using simulation.