BENNINGTON >> He enjoys teaching and is responsible for creating Southwestern Vermont Health Care's (SVHC) Innovative Learning Center for Simulation in 2011.

Drew Totten, RN, BSN, BSC, clinical education and simulation specialist is the new director of Education and Organizational Development. He replaced Margaret Daly, who retired after 11 years in the health system, on June 1.

"I just like doing research and I like presenting, and everything that we do now is evidence based so the way we used to do things is not the way we do it anymore," Totten said. "There needs to be evidence for every program and product because it's been based on evidence and research. That's my favorite part, and teaching is what this is all about. Creating a product and program and delivering it is what does it for me."

Totten started at SVHC in 1992 as a phlebotomist in the hospital laboratory and then worked as an emergency department technician while studying in nursing school, according to a release. He later moved on to working as a critical care registered nurse in the emergency department and medical staff nurse with oncology and palliative care specialty. In 2007 he joined the education department when the simulation center came to life.

A grant was available to purchase a hi-fidelity manikin for nurses to be able to practice real-life techniques while keeping real patients safe. Totten marks this advancement as his greatest accomplishment. He named Henry the manikin after Henry Putnam, who founded hospital in 1918.


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"Through the team of dedicated educators, we were able to build a skills lodge and a simulation area in one building. This is a hi-tech manikin able to replicate many human functions – breathing, heart rate, EKGs (electrocardiogram) and 30 more skills. The duty of simulation is the objective to learn. They learn team building, critical thinking, and all these attributes keep real patients safe. This is a wonderful environment to help people learn and expand knowledge and fine-tune skills without the real risk on patients."

The department has about five full-time employees at full capacity, Totten said, and they are dedicated to the health care system.

"One way or another the education department touches [every employee]. It's interesting. Our staff really are always interested in the most cutting edge info and our department seeks out those opportunities to meet those needs. For a small department we do some incredible work and I've been there since 2007."

Daly, who plans to spend more time with her husband, but occasionally dabble into the health care system, thrived on seeing nurses grow through training programs. She developed a 120-hour training program for nurses.

"I love to teach, I guess I always have. I started out back in the dark ages, been a nurse for 45 years," she said. "I love to design programs and figure out how I can make it exciting and how can we engage with adult learners. They want to be active participants and we really try to learn adult principles in everything we design. Our mantra is, 'feedback is a gift.' We want people to let us know what worked and what didn't for all staff and employees. I'd like to see the light go on for them and have them say 'I really got it.' It's the technical stuff, when you're teaching a new nurse to put an IV in, and we have equipment to let them. It's rewarding to see the excitement in that."

She said she enjoyed being the education director because it was a different seat and she was able to voice her ideas better. A standard for behaviors originated under her belt as well, which meant deciphering that for every employee on a daily basis.

"As the director, I've worked with a talented group of employees," she said. "I think I'll enjoy my time and keep my hand in a little. And then who knows, we'll see."

— Makayla-Courtney McGeeney can be reached at (802)-447-7567, ext. 118.