Chris Garrison, PhD, RN, CNE, CHSE

Tell us about your personal and professional background.  

Dr. Chris Garrison HeadshotI am an Associate Teaching Professor at the Penn State College of Nursing and Director of the Simulation Laboratory at the University Park campus.  I received a BS in Human Development from Penn State, an AAS in Nursing from Northern Virginia Community College, an MSN as an adult/gero nurse practitioner from George Mason University, and my PhD in nursing education from Nova Southeastern University. I taught nursing for 6 years at the University of South Florida and 2 years at St. Petersburg College before accepting my present position 7 years ago. I have been certified as a nurse educator (CNE) through the National League for Nursing since 2007 and as a certified healthcare simulation educator (CHSE) through the Society for Simulation in Healthcare since 2018. In addition to my simulation role, I am the lead instructor for a pathophysiology course and a senior medical-surgical course. I am the chair of the INACSL webinar committee and a continuing education nurse planner for INACSL webinars. My current research is focused on the impact of virtual simulation and computer-based tutors on learning outcomes.  

How did you become interested in simulation?

I attended a workshop on simulation in 2007. After this workshop, in collaboration with my colleagues, we developed and piloted a simulation for the med/surg course that I was teaching in. It became evident that simulation had a tremendous impact on students' ability to apply important concepts in a clinical context. I realized that this method of instruction needed to be infused throughout the curriculum and I became invested in learning as much as I can about how to use simulation with my students. 

Explain your current role in simulation.

I am responsible for the development and implementation of simulation across the curriculum at my campus. This role includes the development of simulations, curriculum integration, faculty development, as well as facilitation and debriefing of simulations.  In collaboration with two colleagues from other Penn State campuses, we developed a faculty development course for simulation education.   

What value do you see in simulation as a teaching-learning strategy?

I strongly believe that too much emphasis in clinical nursing education is placed on tasks. Many students and even some instructors are primarily task-oriented. Simulation, when appropriately designed and combined with effective debriefing, is an excellent strategy to help students to develop the ability to view the whole picture of what is going on with their patients and move beyond simply completing the tasks.  

How have the INACSL Standards of Best Practice impacted your simulation program?

The INACSL standards are integral to a quality simulation-based learning experience. In my role as simulation director, I work to ensure that the standards are consistently implemented in all simulations across the curriculum.

In closing, what advice do you have for simulation educators?

It is so helpful to find a mentor. There are so many talented simulation educators who are willing to share their knowledge and encourage your development. One of the best experiences I have had in my career was participating in the NLN Leadership Development Program for Simulation Educators.  It helped me become a better, leader, scholar, and educator. Attend a simulation conference, such as the INACSL Annual Conference.  You will come away energized with great new ideas that can enhance your teaching.  It will also give you the opportunity to network with other educators who are passionate about simulation.