Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

A new era of translational simulation

Home > About Us > News > A new era of translational simulation
A new era of translational simulation
​Meet Western Health’s first Simulation Program Director Dr Nancy Sadka.  

The simulation champion and Emergency Department (ED) physician is spearheading a new era of translational simulation in Melbourne’s western suburbs.

Her aim is to expand translational simulation use across our health service to improve patient outcomes.

This includes the use of in-situ simulation, a powerful tool that immerses staff in real-world situations in clinical spaces to test systems, train staff and improve patient care without compromising safety. 

“Whether we are training our deteriorating patient response teams, testing new procedures or processes, or preparing our response to rare events such as a pandemic, translational simulation provides staff with an opportunity to improve the care we provide our community,” Dr Sadka said. 

Like so many medical professionals, Dr Sadka’s medical career was borne out of a desire to help others.  Growing up in Lebanon, Dr Nancy Sadka witnessed firsthand the great loss and suffering war inflicted on a community.  

“I knew I wanted to become a doctor from the age of five,” Dr Sadka said. 

“I grew up in an environment where we were bombed and we saw people harmed, and the idea that I could one day become a doctor and help people was a positive goal and that motivated me to study medicine.  

She moved to the United States to study and play college basketball, before settling in Australia.  

“I was drawn to emergency medicine because of the fast pace and the ability to make a big difference to someone’s life in such a short space of time.”  

Even today, as she pioneers our translational simulation program, you’ll still find Dr Sadka working as an ED doctor in Sunshine and Footscray hospitals.  

“I trained for many years to be an ED physician and I love my job.  I really enjoy the busyness of the role and interacting with the ED team and patients.”  

Nancy first experienced simulation like many health professionals, as a fearful trainee doctor, who was worried about being ‘tested’ or ‘embarrassed’ during simulation exercises.  

It wasn’t until many years later that she realised the potential of translational simulation and in-situ simulation to change healthcare delivery.  

“I had this moment about seven years ago, inspired by other simulation experts before me, where I realised that simulation could be used as so much more than an educational tool in a designated space and that began my journey and passion for using in-situ simulation and developing translational simulation.”  

Dr Sadka said in-situ simulation brings teams together to train and learn in the real work settings and it was incredibly useful in the quality improvement process.  

“It can help us diagnose areas of risk and implement and evaluate solutions before the risk results in any negative outcomes.  

“We often train in silos in healthcare, but the real magic happens when we understand each other's roles across the whole organisation in a variety of situations and how we work together as a team to achieve our goals.  

“When it comes to errors, they often do not result from a lack of knowledge, but from system deficiencies, or communication breakdowns and siloed approaches to working.” 

Dr Sadka said multidisciplinary in-situ simulations bring teams together so staff learn together and from each other.  

“It’s an opportunity to be curious about the decisions we all make in performing our work.  

“Most of the time in healthcare things go well, multidisciplinary in-situ simulations are as much about identifying the gems (the things our staff do well), as uncovering the system cracks or the risks.”  

For instance, the Paediatric ED team ran a simulation earlier this year at Sunshine Hospital of a patient in ED who was deteriorating and needed to get to the operating theatre urgently. 

“The simulation involved everyone who would be involved in a real event: doctors, nurses, administrative staff, and patient service assistants.  

“It allowed us to understand and discuss everything involved in this process, from who is involved in organising the transfer, the avenues of communication, to the route that the patient’s trolley should take as it moved through the hospital.”  

Dr Sadka said she believes that the people doing the work are best placed to understand system problems affecting their work and may also be the key to finding the solution.  

“One of the important things that we want to do is encourage people to think of translational simulation as an opportunity.   

“It’s not an assessment, it’s a tool that provides an opportunity for team training and gives staff a moment and a voice to allow them to identify and highlight the things we do well and the opportunities to improve.”