Indiana State University Newsroom

Simulations offer students hands-on practice in Indiana State’s athletic training educator course

December 4, 2015

Two walkie-talkies seemed sufficient when Carolyn Hampton began coordinating medical staff during the first scenario at a high school wrestling tournament.

But once one actor experienced a simulated ankle sprain while another actor suffered a spine injury and then another actor replicated a seizure, the first lesson had been learned: better communication in such events is key.

"You really need to be aware of your surroundings and be organized beforehand because when you're not, we saw during the simulation what can happen," said Hampton, an athletic trainer with ATI Physical Therapy in Terre Haute who is enrolled in Indiana State University's doctor of athletic training program. "I now know how important it is to have an emergency action plan drawn out beforehand, so that everyone knows what they need to do when something happens, instead of people running around like crazy trying to figure things out on the fly."

The students, who are licensed and practicing clinicians, are enrolled in the athletic training educator course, which focuses on teaching and learning but not always in the traditional sense. Students were provided with literature and interactive learning activities as they prepared to create the simulations, said Lindsey Eberman, director of the post-professional doctorate in athletic training program.

"Ours is the only doctoral program of this kind that is currently seeking accreditation, so we are aiming to create novel ideas and unique experiences that will allow the students in our program to be leaders in the profession," she said.

For their 30-minute simulations, which were held at the indoor athletic facility at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, students divided into teams of two to four to replicate scenarios like the Boston Marathon bombing, multi-trauma wrestling event, an extreme endurance event with an electrical obstacle and cardiac incidents. The students also debriefed after each simulation to discuss what happened and how to make their performance better.

"These are the future leaders of the profession and they are learning to lead through education, so these simulations are all drawn from real life and the students are tasked with creating a realistic learning environment for their classmates," Eberman said. "Our students in the clinical Doctorate in Athletic Training program...have enrolled in our program because they hope to develop clinical expertise and become advanced practice leaders. The students learn that every conversation is an opportunity to teach others, so they begin to look at teaching beyond the classroom to see that they teach students, peers, patients and the public."

Creating the best educational environment requires a significant number of volunteers and actors, which is where the Rural Health Innovation Collaborative Simulation Center at Union Hospital in Terre Haute stepped in.

"Students can get general skills in a lab or even in a simulation, but when it comes to preparing for those events we hope never happen, the simulation is a great tool," said Laura Livingston, clinical simulation specialist for the RHIC Center which provided three paid actors and six staff members to assist with the Simulation Day along with 25 Indiana State nursing and athletic training students and two faculty members. "The students know what they need more of in their education, so with help from me and their instructors, they planned these scenarios to help them learn how to be better educators and learn how to delegate and prioritize tasks when the time comes."

The outcomes are likely better for patients if athletic training professionals are equipped to respond to worst-case scenarios like the simulations provided, said Addam Kitchen, an athletic trainer for Indiana State's cross country and track and field programs.

"That's really what this class aims to do - make learning an objective - and activities like these simulations help us, not only to practice what we do, but to learn where we need to make adjustments in our practices so we can better serve people," he said. "We really wanted to make the simulations feel as real as possible, so that if these events happen, we'll be more prepared to step up and act."

Contact: Lindsey Eberman, associate professor of applied medicine and rehabilitation, Indiana State University,

Writer: Betsy Simon, media relations assistant director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-7972 or