Richard Viloria discovered his passion in childhood, not long after he started playing computer games.
“I played arcade and computer games a lot,” he recalls, laughing. “‘When the machines broke, I had to fix them.”
By the time he had finished high school, he had aced a class in computer programming and was on his way to Cal State L.A., to study electrical engineering. While working his way through college doing information technology jobs, however, he got pleasantly sidetracked–he was hired at American Career College to support its IT growth. As a member of the IT department, Viloria supported both American Career College and West Coast University.
Fourteen years later, Viloria is now supporting WCU’s simulation centers, and the expertise he has gathered has recently earned him a prestigious invitation: This month, he will join a small cadre of technology experts from the Society for Simulation in Healthcare to help develop the first worldwide certification exam for technicians and specialists in health care simulation.
In layman’s terms, those are the people who operate and maintain the high-tech mannequins and equipment that nursing and medical schools increasingly are using to train health care workers. Equipped with artificial organs and programmable responses, simulators allow students to practice and interact with life-like “patients” in a variety of clinical situations.
However, computerized health care simulators are complex and expensive, and so new to the field that standardized guidelines for their mastery are only now being developed.
“The field of simulation in health care is exploding,” says WCU Simulation Education and Management Director Terry Larsen, Ph.D., R.N. C.N.S., who recently helped devise the first certification exam for educators who use simulation. “But it’s only been in the last 10 or 15 years that we’ve had the technology to create mannequins with human-like responses. At the moment, the people who operate and maintain them are coming from a lot of different backgrounds, and we want to be able to start certifying their competence.”
It was Larsen who recommended Viloria to serve on the international committee that’s developing the certification exam in his field, in part because Viloria has been overseeing WCU’s simulation environment for the past three years. In that time, he says, he has used his IT know-how to assess software, integrate the simulators into WCU’s larger IT network, improve the workflow for educators using the mannequins and simplify videotaping for teachers and students.
“The Sim Center is like a recording studio,” says Larsen. “And when the simulation centers were being built, Richard integrated the technology. He manages all the IT here in our centers along with his IT team making videos of the simulations accessible to our faculty and making the mannequins work when there are problems. He’s done a wonderful job here. He was the perfect candidate.”