J. Hector Aranda can relate to the Wizard of Oz. He works behind the scenes and has a great hand in testing and molding future health care heroes at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso.
As a certified health care simulation operations specialist (CHSOS), Aranda isn’t seen, but his presence is felt by learners as they train at the Training and Educational Center for Healthcare Simulation, also known as TECHS, where he’s a faculty associate and the associate director of technical operations.
The TECHS center allows Foster School of Medicine and Hunt School of Nursing students, residents, faculty and outside entities to practice diagnosis and treatment of patients using high-fidelity manikins, virtual reality simulators, role-playing “standardized patients,” and other methods and equipment designed to simulate real-world medical experiences.
Led by simulation operations specialists, the center has also overseen several large-scale emergency drills, which prepared TTUHSC El Paso alumni and students to care for the victims of the Aug. 3 shooting at an El Paso Walmart. Many of the victims were taken to UMC, where residents practice and where many medical and nursing students were completing their clinical rotations.
This past spring, Aranda was part of the inaugural group of certified health care simulation operations specialists to be recognized at an advanced level, receiving the designation CHSOS-A. He was one of 25 specialists in the world to earn the distinguished professional credential from the Society for Simulation in Healthcare (SSH). All members of the inaugural group have advanced skills, demonstrate leadership and influence the health care community outside of their institution.
Aranda had to submit to SSH a portfolio of accomplishments that showed the impact of his work on a regional and national level. He also had to provide an example of a simulation activity, technology innovation or project that demonstrated his advance capabilities. The inaugural group of advanced specialists were then chosen by a panel of distinguished specialists and educators.
“It gave us an opportunity to showcase ourselves. In our line of work, we’re usually working in the background where if everything goes right, no one notices you,” Aranda said. “Being one of the first 25 to be selected by my peers is an honor. It shows the work behind the scenes is recognized. I feel the work we’ve done at TTUHSC El Paso justifies the advanced level designation.”
The TECHS center has been a regional trailblazer when it comes to simulation events and scenarios, Aranda said. He said the other simulation technology specialists at TTUHSC El Paso rise to the occasion every day and are capable of joining him at the advanced level.
TECHS Director Scott Crawford, M.D., FACEP, CHSOS, said the certification is evidence of Aranda’s technical and administrative growth within the simulation center.
“TECHS is extremely proud of Mr. Aranda. His recognition as a CHSOS-A highlights his dedication to delivering high-quality, simulation-based activities,” Dr. Crawford said. “We’re proud he’s supported the growth of simulations on our campus. He’s also shared his knowledge through conferences and scholarly works.”
Aranda said he’s happy to be honored and to represent TTUHSC El Paso in the inaugural class of advanced simulation operations specialists. Even though he’s spent most of his career behind one-way mirrors in simulation rooms, he’s always been proud to be a part of something larger.
“It’s rewarding to know you had something to do with the growth of future doctors and nurses for our area,” Aranda said. “I’ve been here 26 years, and I’ve seen TTUHSC El Paso grow. What this institution has accomplished over the years is inspiring, and I’m happy to be a part of that.”
Students from the Foster School of Medicine and Hunt School of Nursing, as well as TTUHSC El Paso residents, train at TECHS to be better prepared for real-life patients. During the COVID-19 pandemic, TECHS provided students with the opportunity for hands-on practice, making up for any lost opportunities students may have had in teaching hospitals that could have delayed their graduation and workforce where they were critically needed.