Simulation specialist utilizes experience, curiosity to advance training at WVU Health Sciences

With an interest in education and a desire to help people, West Virginia University Health Sciences Simulation Research Specialist Jason Craig has dedicated his career to serving the public. Reflecting on his journey, he emphasizes the importance of adaptability for young people considering a career in healthcare.

“Embrace change. Remain open-minded and realize that there are a seemingly infinite number of professions, each with its specialties and sub-specialties. Decide what your hobbies and interests are and find a field that aligns with what you like.”

Jason has applied his own advice throughout his career, providing opportunities for personal interests and hobbies to shape his work. A self-described techno nerd and musician with a fondness for volunteerism, the enjoyment and lessons he has gained through personal endeavors have led to a successful, fulfilling career.

As a child, Jason was drawn to a life of service as he watched his father serve as the fire chief of the volunteer fire department in his hometown of Bobtown, Pennsylvania, a small coal mining town north of Morgantown. Jason became an emergency medical technician while he was still in high school and later advanced to a paramedic before working in a 911 center, which led to even more opportunities in public service.

He served the Greene County Department of Emergency Services as a Counterterrorism Task Force assistant and then as the planning and operations officer. During this time, he was involved in preparation for large-scale events, including the Major League Baseball All-Star Game held at PNC Park in 2006 and the G-20 Summit held in Pittsburgh in 2009, while later focusing on emergency response for disasters including hurricanes, snowstorms, flooding and hazardous materials incidents.

While Jason enjoyed his work in public service, after more than 10 years he was ready for a change. He had an interest in working in education and connected with a friend at WVU Health Sciences who shared an open position in the David and Jo Ann Shaw Center for Simulation Training and Education for Patient Safety (STEPS). And, as Jason said, “the rest is history.”

Since joining the STEPS team, he has completed the Regents Bachelor of Arts program and earned a Master of Business Administration. He has also achieved Certified Healthcare Simulation Educator-Advanced® certification, a distinction held only by just over 100 individuals in the world. His extensive background and expert knowledge help contribute to an enhanced learning experience for students before they transition into patient care environments.

In his current role, Jason enjoys flexibility in day-to-day activities that allows him to best meet student needs. He meets with faculty to determine if a specific research question exists within a program and then assists with developing the research process to enhance student learning. He also helps identify funding sources to financially support project needs. His role also includes literature review to maintain expert knowledge that benefits the learning experience, and he ensures all STEPS research is conducted according to policy and best practices.

In addition to coordinating research projects, developing interprofessional education opportunities and exploring funding opportunities to continue expanding the capabilities of STEPS, he supports the team as a learning experience facilitator and simulation specialist, instructor for the Simulation Certificate Program and portfolio reviewer as part of the CHSE-A Review Committee.

“Comedian Steven Wright said, ‘Experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it,’” he recalled. “STEPS allows you to have that experience before you need it. This allows students to be better prepared upon graduation, practicing providers to engage in a low-risk scenario where they may ‘treat’ a patient that has a rare complication before they see it in person, or a facility to recreate a sentinel event so that others may learn from the same experience. Ultimately, patients benefit from the steady practice and skill improvements of the providers.”

While simulation centers are becoming more common at institutions across the country, Jason says the STEPS team, staffing model and programming provide an advanced and innovative experience for learners.

“STEPS has the best crew I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with,” he said. “While many centers are staffed with faculty from their respective professions, STEPS enhances that capability by valuing the educational ability of its supplementary staff. This enables faculty to engage with larger groups of learners, communicate with staff who ‘speak the language’ and increase the efficiency of the center. Learners benefit by having a larger number of resources to draw from when they need assistance.”

To meet its mission of optimizing patient safety and the quality of healthcare, the STEPS team provides experiences for over two dozen undergraduate and graduate programs, as well as practicing providers from WVU Medicine. During the over 30,000 educational encounters that occur every year, Jason says learners should immerse themselves to get the most out of the experiences.

“Jump in and don’t be afraid to make mistakes.”

Photo at Top: Jason Craig (right) provides CPR training to a student in the WVU Health Sciences David and Jo Ann Shaw Center for Simulation Training and Education for Patient Safety (STEPS). (WVU Photo/Tyler Mertins)



CONTACT: Jessica Wilmoth
Senior Communications Specialist
University Relations – Health Sciences