How I Sim – Peter Dieckmann

How I Sim (1)

Another one of the giants of the sim world has generously agreed to share his “How I Sim” story with #FOAMsim and the scanFOAM audience.

Peter Dieckmann is an organisational psychologist, originally from Germany where he also did his PhD, spent some time in Switzerland before going back to Germany and now we are the lucky ones in Copenhagen, where he is the head of research at CAMES.

To be introduced to the world of sim by an educator like Peter has been a true honour and pleasure. He is my boss, mentor and great inspiration in anything medical education and psychology.

I have had the pleasure of working with Peter for years. Most of what I know – he taught me or introduced me too. Simple as that. He too, is one of those people where when he talks about education, debriefing, human factors and other related topics, you listen in awe. His outstanding ability to ask the right questions and search for the “why and how” instead of “what” makes it an absolute pleasure to learn from and with him.

Peter has recently joined twitter so go right ahead and connect with Peter @pdieckmann and enjoy his version of “How I sim”



“How I Sim”


Peter Dieckmann


Copenhagen, Denmark

Current job

Senior Researcher with the Copenhagen Academy for Medical Education and Simulation (CAMES) of the Capital Region of Denmark

One sentence to describe your sim recently

Write, write, write it up – Trying to convince those almost ready papers to leave the coziness of my hard drive to enter this great world of published material.

Favorite topics in sim

Patient safety and how simulation users can systematically contribute to increase it on many different levels. I would like to find out what we can do via training to help individuals, teams, and organisations to deliver great care to all, under varying conditions. How can we analyse and improve work systems with simulation so that they allow all those great clinicians to really treat my family well – and yours.

Current sim project(s)

Argh—too many…

We are working on measuring reflection levels in debriefings; we use simulation to optimise medication labels and how they are used; we train our internal 120 instructors systematically; we develop tools to describe the human-factors aspects of care; we develop workshop concepts to teach those human-factors issues; we investigate how an orchestra conductor can help medical students to also non-verbally play the part of the leader in a team; and some more…

How I see simulation scenarios

For me the key issue is that the scenario is designed and conducted in a way that creates learning opportunities for the learners. Whether it is a realistic scenario or not is not so important for me. For me the effect, the learning opportunity, is what counts. We run many highly unrealistic scenarios that seem to work very well in this regard. I like the metaphor of a movie director in comparison to a scenario designer and conductor: Nothing should happen “just so” in a scenario – all actions and events should support the learning opportunity. Might be my naivety – but I hold on to the thought that, if Hitchcock places a vase on the table in the movie set, the movie would be worse without this vase. And I want to think that we as simulation educators create scenarios that would be worse, if any part of it is left out.

How I see debriefing

In the moment as struggling with being too nice in a way that is collusion at times. I think we need to find a way of honestly addressing what was great and how people can replicate it again on a systematic, not only lucky basis. I want to analyse why things went well and not only mention it. And then also addressing what was not good enough, how and why this came about and what people can do about it on a systematic basis. Finding the right balance here for a dialogue that’s open yet maintains a feeling of psychological safety is what I find fascinating.

Simulation in the future

I would hope that we use it even more to analyse work system and how they function. I am fascinated by Erik Hollnagel’s thoughts on safety II. I would like to understand how we can use simulation to help systems and the people working in them to deal with the variation they will meet inevitably.

My advice to any new sim’er

  • Simulation does not have to be realistic – Simulation has to fulfil a purpose. Sometimes realism helps in reaching it.
  • Simulation-based learning is not always fun, no learning is. It can be really, really sad to get the insight that I need to change something what I have done forever. And yet it can be the best learning experience ever, the one I will remember all my life. But fun, it was not. Great to have a nice and fun atmosphere, but this should help the deep learning. A nice atmosphere is not the purpose. If it becomes the purpose, then go to an amusement park.
  • Be honest, be yourself. Do what you can and try not to do what you cannot. Differentiating both will be a tricky thing, but still important to try.

My mantra

Simulation Reality = (Clinical Reality – X) + Y


Patrik Nyström

Sigrun Anna Qvindesland

Marcus Watson

Editoral comment:

Yep, none of them are on twitter, but we will try and convince them to join the world of #FOAMsim and #FOAMed and still help them share their “How i Sim” story.

Stay tuned.


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Star skater, simulationista by day, anaesthesia by night and #meded choreographer. Coming to a SIM room near you. With a shark.

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