Pairing Education & Innovation To Advance Clinical Excellence

April 1, 2021
April 1, 2021

At the MedStar Simulation Training and Education Lab (SITEL), part of the MedStar Institute for Innovation, the mission is to catalyze innovation that advances health. The mantra is, ‘think differently.’ That’s also the personal goal for Dr. John Yosaitis, SITEL’s Medical Director, who oversees this education and technology group as it develops learning solutions for associates at MedStar Health. Dr. Yosaitis also

is an associate professor at the Integrated Learning Center at the Georgetown University School of Medicine. With teaching as a passion, Dr. Yosaitis says his work at SITEL is all about finding new and effective ways to tie education to improving patient outcomes.

“I’ve been a pediatric transplant anesthesiologist for most of my career at Georgetown University, but my real interest has always been teaching,” he says. “As SITEL’s medical director I control the day-to-day operations and the content for all the education that comes out of our 120-person department for our 36,000 associates. It’s a fairly big department for a very big healthcare system, and we put out a lot of education. We’ve been given a lot of autonomy to innovate in many fields.”

With that kind of freedom, the institute has been targeting adult learners in many different areas, including:

  • Quality
  • Safety
  • Risk
  • Mandatory education

The goal is to tackle the areas that healthcare workers face, while also keeping in mind that these are busy people whose time is valuable—and whose attitudes may already be set when it comes to continuing education.

“There is plenty of mandatory education out there that is checking a box, and we do everything we can to stay away from that,” Dr. Yosaitis explains. “It’s hard to make an impact with adult learners. They’re all busy. They have their own agenda. They’ve already developed certain levels of expertise. It’s hard to get them to, to change. It’s hard to identify where they should change. It’s hard to get them to sit down and watch some education.”

Connecting experience with learning content

Whether live or online, the key has been to connect a friendly learning environment that incorporates the experiences of its audience into the curriculum. To make it work, Dr. Yosaitis says, the platform must begin with a definition of ‘experience.’

“It doesn’t always have to be a simulation. Most of us learn through lectures, and so often lecturers just end up being somebody in the front of the room basically reading from a book. Giving lists of things to do to the learners in the classroom is definitely not an experience. I think a live or online lecture can in itself be experiential if a lecture does one of two things: tell a story, or make an argument.”

The education should also get participants not just focused, but also excited, about the process. That will drive engagement and retention, Dr. Yosaitis says.

“If you take the adult learner and you give them a solution to something that they perceive is a problem, they’ll be excited about it,” he says. “If they feel like you’re just giving them some information, particularly lists, and it’s not helping them there’s not going to be any excitement there.”

To that end, he says that the emerging trends of reinforcement and reality will help reposition and redefine healthcare education.

We all forget things; we all forget things that we might need to know, but if we don’t use them every day we need to be reinforced,” he explains. “So, reinforcement and a term that I use, ‘educational half-life,’ look at how long does somebody remember something? How often do they need the information to be reinforced?”

And as for reality, he points out that healthcare education is very context specific and requires real-life simulations along with classroom work.

“Maybe somebody could be great at doing resuscitation in a simulation lab that’s very calm. But put them in an emergency department where there are people yelling at them to, ‘Go faster. Get out of the way!’ and they freeze. We have to come up with real-life, reality-based situations. Both reinforcement and reality can be done with virtual reality, and it’ll be interesting moving forward with it in the medical education world. It’s exciting to be part of it.”

About Dr. John Yosaitis:

Dr. John Yosaitis is Medical Director of the MedStar Simulation Training & Education Lab (SiTEL), the education and technology group developing learning solutions for associates at MedStar Health, as well as the Integrated Learning Center at the Georgetown University School of Medicine, where he also is an Associate Professor. A former biomedical engineer, Dr. Yosaitis began his medical career at the National Institutes of Health as a clinical anesthesiologist and researcher. Since 2000, Dr. Yosaitis has served MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and Georgetown School of Medicine as both a pediatric and adult transplant anesthesiologist and an educator.  Dr. Yosaitis received his medical degree from Rutgers University. He completed his residency in anesthesiology at George Washington University and his fellowship in transplant anesthesia at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. He is certified by the American Board of Anesthesiology and is a member of several distinguished professional associations, including the American Medical Association and the American Society of Anesthesiologists.

This blog post is taken from a HealthStream Second Opinions Podcast that was recorded recently. To hear Dr. Yosaitis’ full discussion, click here.