Learning From Failure

We spend a lot of time in our lives chasing perfection. The Olympics provide a vivid and tangible example of individuals and teams that practice for sometimes, decades in chasing perfection. When it all comes together, we witness miraculous performances and see athleticism at its finest. What we don’t see are the countless failures. We don’t witness blunders, injuries, less than perfect practices and situations. Athletes and other to performers attribute learning from failures have made them into the success that the general public sees.

In healthcare, individual and systemic failures can have drastic and severe consequences and patients can be unintentionally placed in harm’s way. The use of patient simulators and immersive experiences in a controlled setting have allowed many aspiring and current healthcare increase their technical and soft skills (discussed in previous posts). The opportunity to build on these skills have positively impacted on safer healthcare delivery.

In the controlled setting, learning from failure can have profound impacts on patient safety. In example, a scenario in which the learner must be able to recognize a medication allergy can save someone’s life. By recognizing medication safety as a key practice area and replicating the experience in the simulated setting, learners can benefit. The result, safer patient care.

Does the simulation experience always yield mind-blowing success and performance? No, however, there is the opportunity to learn from failure. There is the opportunity to learn from mistakes.

There are many ways to approach and address failure, however, building people should be at the forefront of the instructor’s mind. Simulation is about developing people. In the lab setting mistakes happen, but this is where it’s okay to make errors. If issues are explored in the controlled environment, there is an opportunity to learn from failures. Debriefing and performance-based feedback can do wonders for learners.

The approach to improvement makes the difference. Have that crucial conversation with learners to understand their frame of mind and explore why a certain action was performed. Learning from failure can actually be a very positive experience. Through coaching and developing learners, it can make a vital difference in the growth of the individual, team and help them be more effective professionals and provide safe, effective patient care.

Being a learner, there are many times where we stumble, feel awkward and sometimes don’t know what to do because of inexperience. Having a true coach can help learners reach amazing heights for when performance really counts; whether at the bedside or systems improvement.

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Have an outstanding week,


About the Author: Matthew Jubelius wants to change the future of people development, education, and training. He has championed the design, implementation, and evaluation of simulation-based education and training programs, including quality improvement measures for post-secondary institutions, private industry, and the federal government. Matthew can be reached through www.amoveotraining.ca

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