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  

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