Neonatology Boot Camp Preps First-year Fellows

This past July, CHOP’s Division of Neonatology held the 4th Annual Regional Neonatology Boot Camp for first-year fellows. The program — developed and directed by Anne Ades, MD, attending neonatologist and director of CHOP’s Neonatology Medical Education program, and Heather French, MD, attending neonatologist — is designed to train first-year Neonatology fellows in common neonatal technical skills (such as intubation, umbilical lines, and chest tubes), and non-technical skills (like communication, leadership, and teamwork), and prepare them to respond to critical situations all in a simulated clinical environment prior to their first NICU clinical experiences as a fellow.

Simulation is an ideal method to learn to integrate behavioral, cognitive, and procedural skills, which are rarely practiced in isolation but are frequently taught separately. High- and low-fidelity patient simulators as well as standardized patients (playing family members during counseling sessions) were used during the 2-day educational experience. A variety of educational modalities were employed, including didactic lectures, procedural training, teamwork/leadership exercises, and clinical simulations with debriefings.

This year’s event saw 34 attendees from 12 regional academic Neonatology Annual Neonatology Boot Camp Preps First-Year Fellows programs (CHOP, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals, Penn State Hershey, Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York University, UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, University of Maryland Medical Center, Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, Children’s National Medical Center, and West Virginia University School of Medicine). Thirty simulation specialists, Neonatology faculty, senior fellows, nurse practitioners, and RNs from the participating programs helped facilitate the simulations, acted in confederate roles for the simulations, and taught procedural skills.

“Without the enthusiastic participation of these volunteers, the Boot Camp would not be as effective in its educational mission,” says French. “Keeping the student/teacher ratio low is one reason the Boot Camp has been so successful.”

A sampling of testimonials from this year’s attendee evaluations proves the program’s benefits:

  • “I am so thankful to have been included in this experience — it was put together very thoughtfully and intentionally.”
  •  “I love the simulation exercises as they taught me the importance of a strong team and to think schematically. The debriefing sessions after each exercise were very important and helped me understand the whole process — what went well and not so well. I definitely had to come out of my comfort zone and challenge myself, which was very useful and terrifying.”
  •  “It’s really an amazing experience. I am much more confident, more organized in my skills and thoughts. Very happy to have such a learning experience. If you can guarantee to me that this is the education I’ll receive over the next three years, I think I’ll be an excellent neonatologist as well as performer.”
  •  “I didn’t get a chance to thank you both for a great boot camp this past week! Coming into it I had so much anxiety about starting fellowship and after we finished on Friday I really felt a lot better about the coming months. Thanks for a fun 2 days — I can only imagine how much hard work and planning went into pulling off such a great program! 

If you are interested in learning more about neonatal simulation education at CHOP or observing, helping to facilitate, or bringing neonatology fellows to the 2014 Regional Neonatology Boot Camp, please contact Dr Ades ( or Dr French (