Annemarie “Annie” Heath: Dungeons and Dragons and Debriefing

Blog - Annemarie “Annie” Heath: Dungeons and Dragons and Debriefing

“I fell in love with this learning style,” says Annemarie “Annie” Heath, CNM, DNP, a Certified Nurse Midwife, Co-Medical Director of Women’s Health, and Director of Clinical Team Advancement at the Cooley Dickinson Hospital. After taking a Labor and Delivery course with her colleagues at the Center for Medical Simulation (CMS), Annie became intrigued by the educational applications of simulation and debriefing.

As a nursing professor, Annie had used simulation to gauge students’ technical skills but the debriefing portion of her activities needed improvement: “It wasn’t the rich reflection that happens with the kind of debriefing that you do at CMS.” Her experience at CMS introduced her to the Debriefing with Good Judgment© method of debriefing.  Seeing the opportunity to enrich her programming, Annie enrolled in the Comprehensive Instructor Course at CMS in Boston and then a year later enrolled in the Advanced Instructor Course at CMS’ affiliate in Spain.

“The way the curriculum and the content unfold is just beautifully done. I’ve taught a lot in my life so to just be a participant of really good pedagogy…they kept asking me in Spain, ‘Why are you smiling? You’re smiling all day!’ ‘Because it’s good teaching and I love good teaching!’”

Today, Annie oversees all simulation and clinical team development at the Cooley Dickinson Hospital, a role that allows her to embrace creative teaching. “I’ve always loved writing stories, I’ve always loved acting…so [simulation] kind of pulls that all together really well.” And her kids are thrilled with her role as well: “All of my children play Dungeons and Dragons, so they call me the ‘Hospital Dungeon Master,’” Annie says with a laugh.

Although all of Annie’s simulations are in-situ, or within the clinical environment, some situations require her to use simulation and debriefing outside of the hospital. Tasked with training a department that was new to clinical simulation, Annie decided to take the group to an escape room, an attraction that challenges participants to solve puzzles as a team. “I used Debriefing with Good Judgment as the model to debrief their process, it was all the same content, but the situation was the escape room.”

No matter where the learning occurs, Annie wants her students to become better communicators and team-players: “People in the medical profession have the misconception that it’s lack of knowledge or lack of skill that leads to medical error or poor quality of care…it’s actually communication and teamwork. If you’re in a team you can always find the skills and knowledge that you need. People want to focus on skills but what they really need is to focus on relationship, talking to each other, and communication.”