I am not writing to tell you that after 25 years, Dan Raemer is retiring from the Center for Medical Simulation. That is because doing so might pierce my comfortable denial. So, if I were simulating informing you that Dan is moving on to pursue his interest in tennis, healthcare simulation safety, public speaking, and model building from his 3D-printer equipped garage in Palm Springs, CA, here is what would say:
Dan Raemer’s wit, intelligence, engineering acumen, innovation and creativity, and love of the art of debriefing have shaped the modern era of simulation. His use of humor and surprise in presentations and scenario design are legendary. His influence on our field is hard to overstate: He was the instigator (founding trustee) of the Society for Simulation in Healthcare. He and other pioneering colleagues drafted the by-laws of SSH in 2004, and he was the inaugural President of the society in 2005.
In 1995, Dan left his post as Director of Clinical Engineering for the Brigham and Women’s Hospital to step off into what would become his second career when he joined the Boston Anesthesia Simulation Center, created by Jeff Cooper in 1993, and became the driving force of its clinical programs. This led to the more expansive programs that called for the change in name to the Center for Medical Simulation. All of this happened with the able collaboration of colleagues like Jordan Halasz, and Harvard faculty colleagues David Feinstein, Rick Blum, Roger Russell, John Pawlowski, Steve Small and others. Starting in 2004, Dan partnered up with Robert Simon and me to develop one of the first healthcare simulation educator courses, the Institute for Medical Simulation. Dan’s skill as a debriefer, scenario designer, and presenter has been a guiding role model so many of us in the field.
Using simulation as a research tool to investigate healthcare worker’s behaviors and thought processes has been his most enduring passion. His work on understanding and improving speaking up, feedback conversations, perceptions of realism all in the perioperative environment has not only netted key findings but has nurtured the careers of numerous colleagues in the Harvard system and around the world.
Dan also sought to mitigate the impact of Murphy’s law in healthcare and healthcare simulation. Since what can go wrong, often will often go wrong, his editorials and co-founding (with Ann Mullen) of HealthcareSimulationSafety.org has directed the profession’s attention to the ethics of harm prevention and high reliability in simulation. He has worked tirelessly to prevent unintentional harm through simulation, an activity designed to improve safety, quality and learning.
A reluctant entrant to the social media space, Dan nevertheless has embraced his role of one half the dynamic duo, “DJ Simulationistas” with the effervescent Janice Palaganas. Dan and Janice have blended the best of talk radio with cutting edge ideas to introduce several thousand listeners to their take on in simulation education, quality, and safety.
In the last 5 years, Dan has guided the work of his colleagues at CMS and the field more broadly from his post as Chief Curiosity Officer. With humor, wisdom cloaked in irreverence, and an unfailing eye for BS, Dan has carried out the proper role of court jester, speaking truth, raising difficult questions, and shining light on areas of areas of confusion.
I would not be in healthcare simulation if it were not for Dan Raemer. On the first day scouting sites for my doctoral dissertation on medical error in 1999, all hell broke loose in the control room at CMS as the mannequin broke down in the middle of a complex scenario. As Dan ably applied the principles of crisis resource management, cracking jokes to calm and organize the technical team, I said to myself, whatever this guy is doing, I want to part of it.
Thank you, Dan for all that you have done for all of us at CMS, the entire, international community of simulation and all of the patients who have benefited from your unique and countless contributions!
Daniel Raemer, PhD
Massachusetts General Hospital
Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care, and Pain Management
Associate Professor of Anaesthesia
Harvard Medical School
Bioengineer, Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care, and Pain Medicine
Massachusetts General Hospital
Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Chief Curiosity Officer
Center for Medical Simulation
Charlestown, MA, USA