Industrial and organizational psychology (IOP) is the scientific study of human behavior in organizations and encompasses areas related to recruitment and selection, training and development, employee motivation, leadership, organizational change, and performance appraisal. Because of its emphasis on optimizing human performance and organizational outcomes, IOP can contribute several theoretical and practical strategies for enhancing the effectiveness of medical simulation training efforts. Increasingly, IOP currently applies to a broad range of areas within healthcare, including physician selection, skills verification, and team training.With increased awareness of its potential, it is expected that the field of IOP will have an even more integral role in medical simulation in the future. The sections that follow highlight just a few areas in which IOP can inform medical simulation training endeavors.
A cornerstone of IOP is its reliance on data to inform decisions and output. Likely because of the field’s historical roots in industrial applications, in which time-and-motion increases and the number of widgets produced as the criteria for success, IOPs are trained to optimize data collection and reporting processes. For example, IOPs know that no training intervention should occur without a thorough needs assessment. The needs assessment phase is designed to identify discrepancies between the current and desired state of knowledge, skills, abilities, or other attributes (KSAOs) among workers. Applied to medical simulation, this process might entail reviewing training or practice guidelines, surveying health current trainees or healthcare practitioners, observing clinical performance, or auditing healthcare outcomes data prior to designing a new simulation-based curriculum. Data from the needs assessment phase can help simulation leaders determine if a new curriculum is warranted, and if so, how to optimize design and evaluation of that curriculum.
Another major contribution of the IOP field to medical simulation training is performance measurement. IOPs categorize training outcomes according to attitudes, behaviors, and cognitions and identify opportunities to measure each of these independently. For example, a common strategy among simulation educators is to measure course effectiveness along participant self-report attitudes (e.g., “I found this course helpful,” “I feel more confident performing these procedures,” “I plan to apply principles from this course to my practice.”). Integration of IOP principles would ensure that the course is measured not only according to participant satisfaction and reactions, but also in regard to increases in cognitive outcomes (procedural steps, when to use certain techniques, etc.) and actual behaviors (improvements in hands-on skills, retention, and transfer to the actual clinical environment). Finally, given that the primary placement of IOPs is in business settings, IOPs are well-suited to partner with simulation educators to document the return on investment of simulation activities. Aside from course effectiveness, measuring outcomes such as onboarding rates, task efficiency, opportunity costs, 360 degree ratings, differences across learner groups, and skill or knowledge transfer to new settings may be areas in which IOPs have additional input and expertise.
Consideration of individual differences in the training and development process is another area in which IOP can offer value to medical simulation training. For optimal effectiveness, training curricula should acknowledge that learners are not a blank slate; instead, they bring prior experiences, mindsets, and motivations to the table as well. These individual differences impact the efficacy of various training interventions and should merit consideration during the design and implementation of simulation-based training. For example, work has shown that medical students with a learning goal orientation (the desire to develop the self by acquiring new skills, master new situations, and improve competence) leads to more successful task acquisition compared to trainees with a performance goal orientation (the desire to perform well in order to prove one’s competence to others. Other research has shown that a trainee’s internal motivation influences procedural skills learning.) Finally, a learner’s locus of control – the degree to which an individual believes he/she has control over the outcome of events in their own lives – has been shown to impact training performance and transfer.
IOPs also have a substantial literature base demonstrating that there are many contextual influences on the effectiveness of training interventions. For simulation educators, this means that not only does the learning environment in the simulation setting need to be considered during training delivery and assessment, but the context in which trainees will apply these skills must also get factored into retention and transfer evaluation. For example, learners report better task attention and engagement when in a psychologically safe environment in which they feel free to express genuine concerns and questions without fear of consequences.
Simulation training interventions are known to enhance clinical performance.By combining clinical practice guidelines with best practices in training, development, and assessment from the IOP literature, the effectiveness of those simulation training episodes can be optimally realized. For healthcare education to move forward in the most efficient and effective manner possible, it is critical that educators investigate related fields outside their domain, critically analyze their applicability to healthcare education, and implement approaches and methods with the strongest evidence base. Industrial and organizational psychology is likely just one field in which there is substantial overlap in overarching aims and which can be applied to optimize effectiveness.
Perhaps one of the most impactful contributions of Industrial and organizational psychology to medical simulation is the incorporation of team science principles into simulation-based team training. One of the foundational contributions to medical simulation training is construct clarity, in which conceptual and theoretical foundations of teamwork, team effectiveness, and team performance are offered and described. Other work has provided empirical work highlighting how incorporation of team science principles can help improve the efficacy of simulation-based team training. For example, work has shown that team-level cognitions, such as team mental models (a team’s shared, organized understanding and mental representation about key elements of the team’s environment), team familiarity (the extent to which team members have worked with one another in the past), team situation awareness (the extent to which a team similarly perceives, understands, and interprets their task environment), and team-level goals (group-level goals that require input from all) can result in more effective team-level interventions. 
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