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“We shape buildings; thereafter, they shape us.”

-Winston Churchill


  • Describe a planning process to design a simulation center based on an analysis of curriculum and utilization goals.

  • Establish planning parameters to generate a program of spaces for the simulation center.

  • Understand the process of engaging and working with an architectural design team to develop a simulation center facility.

A foundational goal of health education at all levels is the preparation of health providers to understand, navigate, and bridge gaps between didactic learning and practice using compassionate, science-based research that improves the human condition. Because healthcare is delivered in a wide variety of physical and cultural settings, from dirt floor huts to robotic operating suites, education facilities must accommodate a similarly broad range of learning experiences. Simulation centers are increasingly seen as flexible locations for experiential learning, fully integrated into academic curricula, and central to interprofessional education in the clinical setting.

This chapter explores the planning needed and suggests physical guidelines to create a new simulation center or to renovate an existing one, as well as considerations for working with facility architects. Purpose-built simulation centers differ in their size, configuration, and organizational structure, based on the specific needs, affiliations, and partnerships of each institution. One shape or one size will not fit all. However, there are evidence-based standards for the size and configuration of the different modalities commonly used to simulate patient care. Where simulation replicates realistic clinical settings, architects employ evidence-based standards for the design of specific room types.

Simulation centers are designed to meet the educational needs of a broad range of users, including nursing and medical students, interns and residents, clinical psychology students, first responders, and professionals at all levels who benefit from advanced, interprofessional training (Society for Simulation in Healthcare, 2019). Today's learners must develop important skills beyond traditional knowledge recall, critical thinking, and task proficiency (Association of American Medical Colleges, 2011). Healthcare delivery is rapidly changing, with an expectation that future healthcare providers will understand, participate in, develop, and advocate for the continuous improvement of integrated health systems in which collaborative teams use evidence-based research, technologies, and social determinants of health to provide streamlined, proactive care. As a result, health and medical educators are researching, developing, and implementing innovative curricula to meet this expectation, leading to numerous emerging trends. Future-forward health education space will be affected by the early integration of the following trends in the curriculum:

  • Community-based patient care

  • Longitudinal patient experiences

  • Big data identification, visualization, and use

  • Scholarly, clinical, and translational research

  • Merged-degree options with engineering, biomedical sciences, social sciences, and informatics

  • Global exposure, work, and educational initiatives

  • Socioeconomic determinants of health

  • Student self-care and life balance

Pedagogical models for knowledge acquisition and transfer into practice are also evolving, such that curricula are becoming more diverse, with increasing requirements for active, collaborative, and ...

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