We want to shine the spotlight on Melinda Sawyer, Director of Patient Safety and Education at the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine for her innovative use of our simulation game to advance patient safety within the U.S. Navy.

Melinda is working with leaders at the Navy’s 28 military treatment facilities throughout the world to develop and advance the core competencies necessary to improve patient safety in their organizations. She is training chief medical officers, chief safety officers, chief quality officers and select members of their teams in all aspects of quality improvement as part of a new nine-month Leadership Academy in Patient Safety and Quality.

It’s a replication of the Leadership Academy she helped develop for Johns Hopkins Medicine, which is a multidisciplinary training opportunity for faculty, staff and fellows throughout the institution. Melinda uses Friday Night at the ER to teach aspects of systems thinking in a variety of contexts.

“It’s a great way to learn about systems thinking as well as understanding how an individual role within a system is intimately linked within the larger system,” she explains. “It’s just a great simulation of what we see play out day to day in our hospital.”

Within the Navy’s Leadership Academy, whose first cohort met for the first time in early 2017, Melinda is using Friday Night at the ER to focus on the skills necessary to succeed as a High Reliability Organization, an operational paradigm in which high-risk organizations are in a constant state of reflection to identify and eliminate potential incidents before they occur in order to improve safety.

“The main theme around all their learning was ‘How do you create an organization that is more highly reliable?’” Melinda explains. “The simulation and debrief helped them identify and remove barriers for operating with cost efficiency and high levels of quality and patient safety.”

Melinda scheduled Friday Night at the ER to occur during the weeklong orientation to the nine-month program, which is largely virtual.

“Everybody flew to Baltimore and we actually engaged one of our faculty, Bill Ward, who I’ve worked with for years because I really wanted one of the very best facilitators for this session with the Navy,” Melinda says. “He did a great job, and we got overwhelmingly positive feedback about the program.”

We have long been impressed with Melinda’s ability to adapt our simulation tool for a variety of learners at Johns Hopkins. We know she’s used the tool with everyone from pediatric charge nurses concerned with throughput to pharmacy and medical students who want to build high-performance teams. So it comes as no surprise that Melinda was able to customize the game and debrief for the U.S. Navy as it transitions to a High Reliability Organization. She is one of the best.