PEC extends the reach and effectiveness of Limited Obstetric Nursing education with SIMTICS web-based simulations

Cindy Parke, owner of PEC

Cindy Parke, RNC, CNM, MSN leads a busy life. Certified nurse-midwife, educator and clinician, she and her husband took over management of Professional Education Center (PEC) in 2010. PEC is an entity devoted to continuing nursing and midwifery education specific to the field of Obstetrics, and since its inception has provided this type of education to over 1 million nurses.

Through PEC Cindy brings her years of clinical and lecturing experience in women’s health, pregnancy, fetal monitoring, and childbirth topics to nurses and other health professionals nationwide. An active member of the American College of Nurse-Midwives, Ohio Association of Advanced Practice Nurses, Sigma Theta Tau and the International Cesarean Awareness Network, her focus is on comprehensive maternal/fetal care throughout the labor and delivery process.

Cindy has a clear vision for her education business: the ultimate goal is to reduce maternal and infant mortality and morbidity.  She firmly believes that much rests on the skills of the nurse. 

PEC’s continuing education provides valuable knowledge that can be used daily in an OB practice. Their seminars have always been designed to be clinically focused, patient-centered, and result-oriented; from recognizing normal labor, ongoing assessment for risks, choosing appropriate interventions, and responding to both the normal and the critical clinical challenges.  And as you might expect, Continuing Education (CE) credits are available on completion of all PEC seminars and on-line educational products.

But as CEO of PEC, and working in a competitive market, Cindy wanted to offer more to meet the needs of PEC’s students.  In her team’s search to achieve that, early in 2014 one of Cindy’s OB ultrasound educators came across SIMTICS, an innovative education product that was just entering the US market at that time. Offering interactive web-based simulations for learning and practicing ultrasound scanning, including OB, SIMTICS seemed like it could be a perfect addition to PEC’s own seminar-based education offerings.

After a thorough evaluation, Cindy decided to adopt the product into her programs and today SIMTICS is what she calls “an essential component” of PEC’s Limited Women’s and OB Ultrasound education. Now the company offers a variety of educational resources including Home Study Units, Webinars, Live Seminars, and on-line study utilizing SIMTICS web-based simulations, as part of PEC’s “Ultimate Ultrasound Training Menu”.

Today SIMTICS is what Cindy calls “an essential component” of PEC’s Limited Women’s and OB Ultrasound education.

“From the beginning we used the SIMTICS modules as an adjunct for self-study. But then with assistance and permission, we began utilizing the graphics and ultrasound pictures within our lecture slides to further explain concepts. That has been very successful.”  Cindy and her instructors also utilize videos from the modules as a summary of sections of their lectures, and have added pieces of the modules, with acknowledgement, within PEC’s InPatient OB Review, Maternal Newborn Review, and EFM Review seminars as well.

“Finding excellent graphics for this type of education is difficult,” she explains.  “I go to SIMTICS first when looking for something to illustrate or explain a concept, and I’m amazed at the updates and additional details that I can utilize.”

PEC’s student audience for limited ultrasound is national and diverse, composed of nurses, midwives, and physicians.  Students typically reach PEC by attending live seminars, where they may have utilized a SIMTICS module as prep for the on-site seminar. During the seminar, a PEC instructor utilizes relevant SIMTICS modules to demonstrate key concepts. PEC’s educators have also blended the use of SIMTICS modules with a webinar education series. This has been utilized without follow up, and also prior to check-offs of skills done by a PEC instructor on site. 

“SIMTICS is modular which provides a great deal of flexibility and affordability,” says Cindy. “This is most important to the small hospital or midwifery group. They cannot manage for their staff to take time away for a conference, but they still need to refine the skills of limited OB ultrasound into practice.”

Trainees can study within their own time constraints, using relevant SIMTICS modules.  Ideally, then there is follow up by a PEC educator including an onsite observation of a full exam to reinforce concepts. Cindy explains that this hybrid approach is very cost-effective for her customers, since a lot of pre-learning can be done by the students before any face-to-face instructional time.

Screenshot from SIMTICS showing scan of second trimester
Screenshot of a SIMTICS obstetric ultrasound simulation

Since adopting SIMTICS, Cindy has noticed significant positive change for PEC’s students, including the ability for them to demonstrate a level of competency through showing proficiency in the web-based simulations. “We had the request for hands on learning with our seminars for years, and SIMTICS provided the first opportunity to do this!”

We asked Cindy what made her feel comfortable to put such a reliance on SIMTICS in her business. “Obvious quality and the pricing were the first draw. Then the special attention in set-up that I received from the COO, Cherry Vanderbeke, was the crown on our initial decision to move to utilizing SIMTICS. That sense of personal attention has never changed as a customer, whoever at SimTutor is interacting with myself or my staff.  In addition, the continued quality improvements always make me proud to offer the product to my learners.”

Cindy was open about the initial learning curve required for some of her students utilizing this type of education technology. “Honestly, sometimes they are not patient with their computer and mouse, and have not read the instructions we provide! However, once they get that together, they just fly though the concepts.”

She points out that utilizing ultrasound in practice is a new skill and language for many of her students.  “SIMTICS, with the self-learning and anytime access, combined with the ease of repetition, is so very helpful to learners. They can take the time they need to become familiar with these new skills and terminology. I am confident to offer the use of SIMTICS to students for self-study, prior to my going to a clinical site to provide education.” 

“Do not hesitate! I consider my decision to utilize SIMTICS one of the best I have made as Director of PEC!!” — Cindy Parke

We asked Cindy what advice she would give to anyone who is considering whether to adopt SIMTICS for their programs. Cindy was clear on the benefits. “For me, as an educator, SIMTICS makes my life so much easier and my teaching more effective. When students have used the SIMTICS simulations first, we move through concepts and the hand skills in the face-to-face sessions with much greater speed. This reduces the cost to the institution. And as a business owner, the quality of SIMTICS is a smart reflection on my company that we are able to offer this learning resource.”


SimTutor would like to thank Cindy for her time in this interview, and most of all for being one of our long-term customers since 2014!

If you are interested in earning continuing education credits, up to 44 Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) Credits are available for SIMTICS obstetric & female ultrasound modules through Professional Education Center. For further information, please visit the ultrasound training page on PEC’s website  

Online simulations: a critical element in creating engaging healthcare curricula for high schools

What does it take to provide a healthcare curriculum at high school that engages students and prepares them for work? Paulette Diener is an RN with 25 years’ experience, a HOSA Advisor, and has been teaching Health Care Science at high school for the last 12 years in the state of Georgia. Finding the SIMTICS online simulations for clinical skills at a HOSA conference was a standout moment for her in her drive to create excellent learning experiences for her students: ‘Oh, my gosh, I was so excited that there was a resource like this available!’
Continue reading “Online simulations: a critical element in creating engaging healthcare curricula for high schools”

Learning sonography through e-simulation: A non-believer turned believer

– By Angelique Praat –

We wouldn’t be overstating the case to say that Shelly Zimbelman was initially skeptical about teaching the clinical skills of her profession using computer-based simulations. Her first reaction was unequivocal: “There is no way you can simulate an ultrasound scan of a patient by using just a computer and a mouse!”

Continue reading “Learning sonography through e-simulation: A non-believer turned believer”

From the frontline: how SIMTICS helps ultrasound professionals stay on top

By Angelique Praat

Working as an ultrasound technologist in a small radiology department brings challenges and opportunities. Cristina Adriano works for a Medical Group/Imaging Center in San Bernardino County, California. In her job, she isn’t surrounded by other ultrasound professionals every day. So she makes her own opportunities to stay on top of the field.

Continue reading “From the frontline: how SIMTICS helps ultrasound professionals stay on top”

Interactive Learning in Healthcare Profile: John Windsor – Pioneer in the Clinical Interactive and Simulation Learning Sector

Professor John Windsor is co-founder of SIMTICS, an interactive learning company that provides web based simulations for allied health and medical procedures, which is now called SimTutor. John holds a personal Chair in Surgery at the University of Auckland and is a Consultant Surgeon at Auckland City Hospital. ILH asked him about simulation-based cognitive learning and what inspired him to dream of the SIMTICS product.

Continue reading “Interactive Learning in Healthcare Profile: John Windsor – Pioneer in the Clinical Interactive and Simulation Learning Sector”

Why web-based simulations should be part of your Dental Assisting curriculum

As an experienced dental assistant and educator, Cassie Belfancha is always on the look-out for ways to enhance the learning experiences of students and trainees. That’s why she jumped at the opportunity to work with the SimTutor team when they began developing new SIMTICS simulations for dental assisting skills.

SIMTICS is a web-based multi-media platform that was already being used in sonography, radiography, medical assisting, and medical programs around the USA and in other countries including Australia, The Philippines, and India. Each module covers one skill or procedure and comprises a text explanation of the procedure, a video of an expert undertaking the procedure, a 3D anatomy model, and a quiz. But the ground-breaking aspect for the dental assisting field is that students can learn and practice skills interactively with the unique SIMTICS simulations, and test their competence too.

Continue reading “Why web-based simulations should be part of your Dental Assisting curriculum”

Maximizing the teachable moments through flipped classroom and student performance analytics

By Angelique Praat

In any teaching environment, students come with a range of talents and challenges, and different learning velocities. Imagine if you could give every student a head start before they reached the classroom. This is the essence of the flipped classroom or blended learning model for healthcare professionals.

Web-based skills learning system, SIMTICS, offers medical and allied health instructors greater scope to prepare their students for the reality of the clinical setting than simply asking them to read their textbooks and watch a video, and hoping they will comply. Through an integrated system of multimodal learning support, students can try procedures via online simulations before they come to class.
Continue reading “Maximizing the teachable moments through flipped classroom and student performance analytics”

When labs are not even a car-ride away: Delivering hybrid learning for budding medical assistants in Alaska’s remote Southeast.

What do you do when you live on a remote island in Alaska’s Southeast, but you want to take the next step in your medical assisting career?  The skills required for medical assisting are both administrative and clinical. But where do you practice your clinical skills when you don’t have access to a lab every day?

Continue reading “When labs are not even a car-ride away: Delivering hybrid learning for budding medical assistants in Alaska’s remote Southeast.”

There’s no such thing as the perfect clinical training environment – e-simulations bridge the gap

While a healthcare educator’s dream might be of labs available whenever and wherever students want them, fully-equipped sim centers, and patients obliging with the right symptoms for the procedure of the week during student externships, this is seldom the reality.

Continue reading “There’s no such thing as the perfect clinical training environment – e-simulations bridge the gap”