Children’s Minnesota Pioneers Live Simulation Training Course to Address Nationwide Racial Bias at the Clinical Bedside


Looking Inward to Inspire Change

As a physician, the medical director of the Children’s Minnesota Simulation Center, and a mother of four – I am deeply committed to addressing the inequities that have sat just beneath the surface of clinical bedsides nationwide for far too long. This is why I collaborated with Brittany Dahlen, clinical education specialist at Children’s Minnesota, to develop a cutting-edge, hands-on training course to help our providers take an inner-look at themselves and their personal biases. My team created an immersive training program that reinforces our organization’s continued commitment to health care equity and improving patient outcomes through an interactive course called: The Role of Bias in De-escalation. 

The Role of Bias in De-escalation Training Course

In 2020 – just months after George Floyd’s murder and the civil unrest that followed – Children’s Minnesota launched The Role of Bias in De-escalation. This interactive training program now puts health care professionals face-to-face with live actors portraying parents of kids in high-stress medical situations. Participants include nurses, physicians, advanced practice providers, allied health professionals, and members of Children’s Minnesota’s Executive Leadership Team. Professional actors are recruited from our community, and represent Children’s Minnesota’s diverse patient population. 

Training courses often unfold at our simulation center inside Children’s Minnesota’s Minneapolis hospital campus, which is less than two miles from where George Floyd was killed. Here, participants have the opportunity for self-reflection and to identify personal biases during interactive encounters with an actor. Actors are given scripted dialogue to choose from centered around the same highly-emotional exchanges health care professionals have during real clinical situations. However, unlike the actors, the participants’ responses are completely unscripted. Personal biases are most likely to surface when emotions are escalated. Instructors closely monitor these exchanges between the health care professional and actor. Instructors then offer bias mitigation tactics, tools and strategies, when necessary, to the group of participants. A few bias mitigation strategies taught in the program include emotional regulation, partnership building and perspective taking. 

The Course’s Success

Since Children’s Minnesota first launched The Role of Bias in De-escalation course, more than 200 Children’s Minnesota employees have completed this groundbreaking training with  97 percent of participants reported using bias mitigation strategies at the bedside within the first six months of completing their simulation training. 

After each course, learners are asked to evaluate and comment on their experience through a survey. One participant wrote:  “I have had many difficult but important conversations about bias with my coworkers as a result of this class, and have felt personally empowered with some of the strategies to deconstruct my bias and work towards anti-racism.” 

Children’s Minnesota has always taken great pride in ensuring our organization is deeply rooted in health care equity. The Role of Bias in De-escalation course serves as another tangible action we’ve taken towards our mission to champion the health of all kids and families.

This article was authored by Samreen Vora, MD, with Children’s Minnesota and was provided to Minnesota Pediatrician by Children’s MInnesota (a MNAAP annual sponsor). 

Annual Sponsors

Children's Minnesota
Gillette Children's
Hennepin Healthcare
University of Minnesota Health
Essentia Health
Mayo Clinic
Shriners Healthcare for Children-Twin Cities