CMS Alumni Spotlight: Crystal L. Murillo, PhD, RN, CHSE

Blog - CMS Alumni Spotlight: Crystal L. Murillo, PhD, RN, CHSE

 “I love experiential learning, learning by doing; it’s a sound pedagogical means of teaching and learning,” says Crystal Murillo, PhD, RN, CHSEDirector of Clinical Simulation and Assistant Professor at the University of South Carolina Columbia. Dr. Murillo is working to address social determinants of health using simulation as the conduit. She is developing healthcare inequity-focused simulations to aid in clinical training of nursing students across South Carolina. The goal: to ensure the next generation of clinicians are equipped to provide culturally sensitive patient-centered care. 

Dr. Murillo’s project, which is funded by a grant awarded by The Duke Endowment, is garnering attention in the Carolinas. In November 2019, she was asked to be a panelist at the National Academy of Medicine’s symposium, Vital Directions for Health and Health Care: The North Carolina Experience. Dr. Murillo was featured in a panel discussion titled, 21st Century Health Workforce. She was delighted to have the opportunity to discuss her research at an event attended by key changemakers including the Governor of North Carolina. She was also proud to be the only simulationist speaker at the event.

The University of South Carolina Columbia Simulation Team

The speaking engagement capped off a year of career development for Dr. Murillo. To prepare for the task of creating and running new simulation programmingDr. Murillo completed the Comprehensive Instructor Workshop and the Advanced Instructor Course at the Center for Medical Simulation in Boston. The two courses helped Dr. Murillo build and refine her skills in simulation design and debriefing. The courses also aided in validating her status as a simulation leader. “I can be quite humble in my thinking of myself and my accomplishments,” says Dr. Murillo. She recalls a conversation with Suzie Kardong-Edgren, a CMS faculty member, that changed the way she had been thinking about her achievements in sim.  I thought, ‘I’m just going to own it,” says Dr. Murillo, “I am an advanced simulationist.  

While she continues to develop the state-wide initiative to address healthcare disparities using simulation as the conduitDr. Murillo is also focusing on faculty development and creating a peer-to-peer culture of feedback at her sim center. She plans to share her CMS learning experience with her community by hosting a Gateway Debriefing Skills Workshop at the University of South Carolina in the summer of 2020. Dr. Murillo is working with Mary FeySenior Director of Teaching and Learning at CMS, to coordinate and teach in the one-day workshop 

“My life’s work will be in simulation,” says Dr. Murillo, who continues her training with CMS through online courses. “I am one of the lucky ones who has been able to attend and partake in the amazing courses at CMS.” 

To learn more about Dr. Murillo’s work, please visit