Application of Science to Simulation Education Research & Training centre


The nationally funded Advanced Southern Simulation Education & Training (ASSET) Centre will be the hub of the CHARGE group, See ASSET Centre. By 2014, UCC will complete the Application of Science to Simulation Education Research & Training (ASSERT) Centre, a world class facility for:Education & training to support lifelong learning by health professionals, Research on technology enhanced learning applied to health (48 researchers including clinicians, educators, engineers, computer scientists & health informaticians),Innovation for development of commercially viable products in healthcare education. The ASSERT Centre is a planned new build (approximately 2000 M2) at the Brookfield site. UCC College of Medicine and Health, with strategic partners, will build the Centre at a capital cost of approximately 7 Million Euro over 2012/13. The Centre will comprise three integrated components:

  • An education, training and assessment facility to support lifelong learning by health professionals. 
  • A research centre for technology enhanced learning (TEL) applied to health. The Research Programme will be based on the work of the UCC TEL for Health Research Group (48 researchers including clinicians, educators, engineers, and computer scientists) 
  • An innovation hub to develop commercially viable products. 

Research Themes

The application of TEL to education for Healthy and Active Aging is one of the ASSERTs Centre's central research themes and has relevance to each of the others:

  • Development /validation of a distributed learning platform with intelligent tutoring capability to enhance Healthy and Active Aging 
  • Development of a 'comprehensive human factors', design-based approach to the development of TEL solutions and medical devices
  • Warm up and rehearsal using virtual reality simulation for (high risk) medical procedures for individuals and teams 
  • Innovation and enhancement of novel forms of performance assessment of procedural skills of and for learning 
  • Innovation and escalation of learning and assessment in a sensor rich environment 

The Role and Rational for ASSERT in CHARGE-UCC

Over the next decade the role of technology enhanced learning (TEL); including simulation will change in the education, training and assessment of health professionals from peripheral or supportive to central and mandatory. One illustration of that fundamental change is contained in the recent (November 2011) UK Department of Health Framework document which clearly states that healthcare professionals should learn skills in a simulation environment and using other technologies before undertaking them in supervised clinical practice". This recent change in UK national policy is representative of the direction being taken across the developed world. Based on 2009 legislation, Australia has undertaken a $ (Aus) 1.6 Bn investment in a new national approach to clinical education , to which an embedded simulation programme is central. One hundred million Australian dollars will be spent before 2014 on new simulated learning environments.

There are six international drivers for the changes in government policy in relation to TEL/health, namely :

  1. Patient safety. One half of all patient adverse events are the result of an invasive procedure. The number of such events (at least in the US) has not decreased since publication of the Institute of Medicine's "To err is human" in 2000 [ NEJM, 2010. 363(22): p. 2124-2134] . Human error, amenable to correction through improved simulation-based training, is a dominant cause. 
  2. Progressive decrease in clinical learning opportunities for health professionals (new explicit patient covenant, legislation such as EU Working Time Directive).
  3. Worldwide move from time-based to competence-based training in healthcare.
  4. Legislation which requires implementation of mandatory professional competence schemes (e.g Irish Medical Practitioners Act 2007) Current or future mandatory recertification/revalidation of health professionals.
  5. Medical "inflation" - increase in the rate of development of new techniques, procedures, devices with evidence of (or licensed to) improve patient care.
  6.  The bodies responsible for licensing medical devices will require evidence of valid reliable forms of assessment of the use by individual practitioners. The FDA recommends validation and human factors testing in a simulated environment as part of any pre-market approval application, (FDA draft guidance January 2012). 

Any novel intervention which could enhance healthy and active aging requires a robust educational foundation. The learner may be an elderly person, a carer or a healthcare professional. This applies to all the projects and initiatives which make up CHARGE. Technology is seen as both a potential facilitator and potential barrier to the education of the elderly. If carefully designed and tailored to their needs, technology enhanced learning (TEL) can be effective in educating the elderly on healthy living , and on recognition and management of illness ( Int J Med Inform. 2009 Nov;78(11):732-44). TEL has become an integral part of medical education and training including those healthcare professionals who care for elderly patients. Thus, the education and innovation foundations provided by the ASSERT Centre and the TEL for Health Research Group at UCC will serve as essential enablers of the CHARGE projects and allow their integration. Educational and assessment tools will be developed to ensure achievement and maintenance of competence of health professionals in the use of the CHARGE-UCC "tools" and to offer accessible and appropriate forms of learning to the elderly .


Centre for Gerontology and Rehabilitation , School of Medicine, UCC The Bungalow, Block 13, St. Finbarr's Hospital, Douglas Rd., Cork, Ireland