Dr. A.J. Kleinheksel, a health care simulation expert with experience both designing and leading simulations that help educate future and current health professionals, has been named assistant dean of the Educational Simulation Program at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University.
Simulation education is a bridge between classroom learning and real-life clinical experience, according to the Society for Simulation in Healthcare. Simulations are increasingly used in medical education and allow students to learn from their mistakes without fear of harming a patient and help them develop their professional identities as physicians.
Kleinheksel will lead the standardized patient, operations and education units of the medical school’s educational simulation program and is charged with researching and identifying high-impact opportunities, evidence-based curriculum and program refinements designed to improve medical education.
The new assistant dean is one of only 81 Certified Healthcare Simulation Educator-Advanced worldwide, a certification given by the Society for Simulation in Healthcare that distinguishes those who have proven themselves to be advanced educators in their practice in health care simulation and serve as mentors and examples to others in the field.
Kleinheksel also is the director of the medical school’s simulation elective and its continuing medical education certificate series in educational simulation.
In addition to roles in educational simulation, they are an educational researcher in the MCG Educational Innovation Institute whose research focuses on simulation, organizational behavior, change management — or managing the people side of change — and educational technology adoption and implementation.
Kleinheksel came to MCG in 2017 from Shadow Health, a Gainesville, Florida-based simulation development company, where they designed conceptual frameworks, learning activities, assessment instruments, features and other content for virtual patient simulation experiences.
Kleinheksel is chair-elect of the Association of American Medical Colleges’ Medical Education Scholarship, Research and Evaluation Section, a past chair of the Southern Group of Educational Affairs’ Faculty Development Special Interest Group, and a member of the Society for Simulation in Healthcare’s Technology Committee.
They earned bachelor’s degrees in arts, social relations and policy and religious studies, both from Michigan State University; and a master’s in educational leadership and doctoral degree in educational technology, both from the University of Florida in Gainesville.