Health Sciences Simulation Center

We prepare students for a deeply serious endeavor: to save and improve lives. But, that doesn’t mean our students can’t have fun while learning.

Real-World Learning Through Simulation

Here, in one of the West’s most advanced health care simulation facilities, Samuel Merritt University (SMU) students, faculty, and working health professionals collaborate to respond to life-like scenarios, try on different hats, and become better health care team members. The Health Sciences Simulation Center (HSSC) is integrated into all of SMU’s programs on our three campuses. Reflection and assessment are crucial parts of simulation-based education. After completing sessions, participants debrief through discussion and review audio and video of scenarios. This immediate feedback reinforces learning and allows students to safely learn from mistakes.

Simulation Creates 

  • A model environment where patient safety is the priority
  • A direct connection between theory and practice
  • Hands-on experience making mistakes and learning from them
  • Dynamic interactions among team members, and between students and faculty
  • Immediate feedback to deepen and reinforce learning
  • Opportunities to embrace change, confront daunting challenges, celebrate experiences of learning and earn each other’s trust 
Society for Simulation Healthcare accreditation seal

The HSSC is accredited by the Society for Simulation in Healthcare

Guiding Principles

  • People learn by actively engaging in an immersive, supportive, reflective and structured environment, and
  • Limitless possibilities exist to create an immersive learning environment.

What do we mean by immersive learning? Immersive is the sense of the learner that “I am in the learning experience and I am practicing doing the things that I need to do better.” (Pagano, 2013, p13).

For SMU students, all future health care professionals, this means that “I am making decisions about a patient’s/client’s care. I am leading a team of health care providers. I am operating a medical device. I am interviewing for a job. I am intubating a patient. I am practicing and I am getting real-time feedback and I am getting better.”

There are many instructional approaches to immersive learning. The HSSC team specializes in designing, developing, implementing, and evaluating simulation-based learning (SBL), which can use computerized manikins (manikin-based simulation) and standardized patients. SMU offers a full range of simulation experiences. Patient safety and positive patient outcomes are at the heart of everything we do. At all of SMU’s campuses, each HSSC practice room and simulation suite is equipped to implement and record any type of simulation technique, as well as support most methods of technology-enhanced teaching. In our Clinical Skills Labs you will use the same equipment as that at hospitals to practice tasks like inserting IVs, giving injections, performing a head to toe health assessment. Task trainers allow you to demonstrate your mastery of those specific skills.

Role-Play With Actors

The best preparation for the human side of health care is practice with real people. That is why SMU engages actors as Simulated/Standardized Patients (SP). An SP is trained to portray a patient in circumstances like those that might occur in a real clinical setting. In addition to the physical symptoms of a specific medical diagnosis, an SP is prepared to tell stories, express emotions, show stress, and exhibit attitudes toward the medical profession. The portrayal should be so convincing that even a skilled clinician might think the performance is real.

You’ll need a good memory, excellent communication skills, and a flexible schedule. The HSSC team will provide training.

Interested in acting as a Standardized Patient? Let us know. A member of the HSSC team will contact you.


Simulation-based learning enhances interprofessional practice and education (IPE) by immersing students in team-based scenarios in a realistic health care environment. The scenario is immediately followed by a guided debriefing with a faculty member trained in IPE and who leads the reflective discussion. Our educators work directly with IPE teams and with and academic faculty seeking to integrate IPE into the curriculum.  

Students and professionals from UC Berkeley, UC San Francisco, along with Cal State East Bay, San Jose State, San Francisco State, and John F. Kennedy universities often interact in these IPE courses, further enriching the experience. 

More information on IPE at SMU



The HSSC promotes immersive learning for health care professionals in an environment where simulation-based education is purposefully integrated into programs. Through a collaborative, interprofessional approach we provide opportunities to acquire knowledge based on best practices and to positively transform the experience of learning.


  • Thinking critically, seeking mastery, and acting compassionately
  • Being fair and respectful, and behaving with integrity
  • Collaborating within the University and with others in our community
  • Taking reasoned risks and moving nimbly
  • Providing and expecting exceptional performance and service
  • We emphasize human factors and patient safety in strengthening our core curriculum
  • We implement inter-professional scenarios that reflect real clinical situations, often using real cases as our models
  • We support SMU’s faculty members as they integrate simulation into SMU’s curriculum in all disciplines
  • We support the goal of simulation-based learning methodologies as SMU’s primary paradigm for demonstrating educational effectiveness
  • We develop structured courses on crisis resource management for targeted groups of community health professionals and all SMU students
  • We provide regional leadership and participate in regional training. HSSC faculty/staff serve as instructors/mentors in all levels of the Bay Area Simulation Collaborative, faculty development "train the trainer" program

The HSSC is central to the work of SMU’s Center for Innovation and Excellence in Learning (CIEL), which fosters collaborative learning to improve teaching practice. Online, hybrid, and face-to-face faculty workshops at the HSSC include: integrating simulation into the curriculum, developing and implementing new simulation experiences for students, utilizing standardized patients, and best practices for debriefing students after scenarios.

The HSSC is an Authorized Training Center for the American Heart Association (AHA), and offers regularly scheduled AHA courses through CIEL. 

Comprehensive apprenticeship programs at the HSSC include those for Simulation Educator and Simulation Technology Specialist. Both apprenticeships use simulation-based learning and are competency based. More about the HSSC Apprenticeship Programs.


HSSC Mission & Vision


The Health Sciences Simulation Center promotes immersive learning for healthcare professionals in an environment where simulation-based education is purposefully integrated into programs. Through a collaborative, multidisciplinary approach we provide opportunities to acquire knowledge based on best practices and to positively transform the experience of learning.


Global leadership in the advancement of innovative education for healthcare professionals.


HSSC South—Peralta Pavilion 450 30th St, G730
HSSC North—Peralta Pavilion 450 30th St, G860


Welcome to the Health Sciences Simulation Center (HSSC). Your faculty and the HSSC faculty and staff are pleased to provide you with the opportunities the HSSC offers. The HSSC is 10,000 square feet state-of-the-art environment where students can immerse themselves in learning. The activities you will be engaged in at the HSSC are an integral part of your education at SMU. You will use the Center to learn and practice new clinical skills, work with actual hospital equipment and supplies, and demonstrate your newly acquired abilities with task trainers, manikins and through simulation-based teaching methods.

The HSSC is equipped with a full inventory of medical supplies and equipment as well as the most current simulators: including SimMan® 3G & SimMan® Essential, SimBaby®, Sim Junior®, and SimNewB™ produced by Laerdal®.

The simulation-based learning that occurs in the HSSC provides many opportunities to promote a culture of safety among students of the healthcare professions. In this dynamic environment, where a robust audio-video system allows for the use of video playback from recorded simulation activities, students are frequently engaged in open, reflective discussions of human error management and other safety concerns, and those lessons learned can be applied to clinical practices that contribute to improved patient safety.

The Health Sciences Simulation Center Faculty and Staff
The HSSC faculty and staff are available to assist you. Contact information is below.

Canvas Course

The HSSC has a Canvas course for students to access additional information regarding the HSSC.  Please self-enroll in this course for additional information.

HSSC Hours of Operation

The HSSC is staffed Monday to Friday (except school holidays) from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The HSSC may have classes/labs in the evening and occasionally on weekends; these classes are prescheduled and are attended by a faculty, as coordinated by the faculty of record for the course.

Open Lab Hours

The Skills Nurse is available on the weekend to provide additional assistance in training. The hours of the Skill Nurse is available and updated on a regular basis and posted on Canvas under the “HSSC” course. In addition, the Skills Nurse is available during the week by appointment only. The Skills Nurse contact information is available on the Canvas course site. It is strongly recommended you pre-schedule time to be assured assistance.

Access to the Health Sciences Simulation Center

Student access to the HSSC site is only available via the electronic, secure card swipe device that requires a valid SMU ID badge. Never facilitate access to anyone not personally known to you or leave the door propped open.

Dress Code

Students must be dressed in professional attire at all times. If you are attending a health assessment lab your faculty will define your dress code. If you are attending a skills lab or a simulation you MUST wear your professional uniform.

Student Guidelines

  • The HSSC is a professional learning environment, therefore, all the same requirements of the University and the specific program you are enrolled in regarding professional code of conduct are expected.
  • Wear your student ID at all times while in the lab.
  • There are lockers available in each lab area. Pleae put your book bags and coats in the lockers. You must bring your own lock if you want to secure the locker. If you not have a lock do not leave your purse or any valuables in the locker.
  • All cell phones must be turned off while in the lab. Cell phones are not allowed in the simulation suites because they cause interference with the audio system.
  • There is absolutely no personal photos or video recording allowed in the HSSC. If a student is discovered taking photos or video recording while in the skills lab or the simulation suites the photos ro recordings will be confiscated and the incident will be reported to the Dean/Chair/Director of the program.
  • No food is allowed in the training rooms or simulation suites.
  • Do not move manikins without the authorization and help of HSSC personnel. If you do receive permission, remember to practice good body mechanics and always treat the manikins as if they were your paitent, e.g. good support and gentle handling.
  • Students are required to return equipment to its proper place after use.
  • If at any time you find equipment not working properly, please notify the HSSC Operations Manager, HSSC Services Coordinator, or the Administrative Assistant.
  • Latex Allergies - The lab provides powder free latex gloves.   Please note that some of the task trainers and simulators are made of latex.  If you have latex allergies please wear gloves when using the manikins and task trainers.
  • Do not access supplies on your own without the permission of your faculty or HSSC staff.
  • Actual drugs are not stored in the HSSC. There may be actual drug containers/vials but the real drug has been removed and is replaced with water. For skills involving the administration of drugs, non-pharmacological substitutes are used.
  • All sharps are to be disposed in the appropriate containers located throughout the HSSC. Please do not dispose of any sharps in the trash.
  • Students are held responsible for leaving the labs in the same condition in which they found it. Students are expected to leave the lab neat and clean. Beds should be straightened and lowered (the head of the bed in a flat position), curtains pushed back, equipment and supplies picked up and put away.
  • Remove shoes if you need to lie on the bed. The beds are not to be used as lounge chairs.
  • All incidents and accidents occurring in the HSSC facility must be reported to an HSSC faculty or staff member.
  • Should there be a medical emergency, please call “911” immediately.
  • The “golden rule” – if you are not sure about a HSSC policy or procedure, please ask!

School of Nursing—Supply Bags

The pre-licensure students will receive a skills supply bag on their first day of skills. The bag is available for pick-up in the SMU Bookstore. Students are responsible and accountable for having their supply bag at each skill class. If the supply bag is lost or stolen it must be replaced. The bag replacement fee is $125.00; individual items that need to be replaced vary depening on the cost of the item. If you have to replace your skills bag please contact Kevin Archibald, the HSSC adminstrative assistant at ext 5530 or

The items in the supply bags are for educational use only and not to be used for any other purpose. The supplies are not to be used for demonstration or practice on an individual.

Simulation Lab

We Embrace Hands-On Learning

See for yourself. Take a tour of the Health Science Simulation Center.

Virtual Tour

Inside the Simulation Center

Explore our state-of-the art learning facility.

Recent News

Jeanette Wong, BSN, MPA, CHSE

Director, Assistant Professor

Velinda Chapman, PhD, BSN, CHSE, CNEcl

Assistant Professor

Celeste Villanueva, EdD, CRNA, FNAP

Founding Director, Assistant Academic Vice President, Interim Dean School of Nursing

Lina Gage-Kelly, MS, APRN-ANP

Simulation Educator, Assistant Professor

Kevin Reilly, MSN

Simulation Educator, Assistant Professor

Nan Howland, MSN

Simulation Educator, Assistant Professor (San Francisco Peninsula Campus)

Lauren O’Niell, BA

Simulation Technology Specialist