There are just not a lot of similarities between Detroit, Michigan and the island commonwealth of Dominica. Positioned on the US border with Canada, the average temperature of Detroit is 48.7 degrees. Dominica is a balmy 81 degrees and is nestled in the southeastern Caribbean Sea as part of the Windward Islands. Home to the automobile industry and the birthplace of Motown, Detroit is a rugged, working class city home to 4.3 million people. Dominica, on the other hand, is home to lush, mountainous rainforests with active volcanos and a large variety of exotic birds. There are a less than 71,000 people that live on the island.
For Detroit native Lisa Paganotti, Dominica was an opportunity to begin her career in the field of healthcare simulation. And for an Upper Midwestern girl, it was an interesting and exciting beginning to a unique journey that has led her to where she is now, an acclaimed Simulation Manager for Ross University, an Accreditation Site Reviewer for the Society for Simulation in Healthcare, and now SSH’s Reviewer of the Quarter, among many other accomplishments.
Lisa grew up in Detroit and went to Northern Michigan University for her undergraduate degree in Health Education. “I loved the Upper Peninsula (of Michigan), and there were lots of activities to do in Marquette (home of NMU),” says Lisa. “And there was always a lot of snow!” In 2008, after her Bachelor’s Degree, Lisa moved to Central Michigan University to complete her Masters to become a Physician Assistant.
Upon completion of her training, Lisa moved to Cadillac, Michigan to work at Munson Healthcare Cadillac Hospital in the Emergency Department. “I’ve always loved the ER, and the pace of it,” Lisa states, and has continued to work in Emergency Medicine throughout her career. Even at that time, though, she knew that teaching was her true calling. “Education is where my passion was, and I knew that I wanted to pursue a career that mixed my clinical knowledge and my love for teaching.” This is where Dominica comes into the picture…
“Ross University had an opening for a Simulation Coordinator in Dominica, and that had quite an allure to me.” Moving from northern Michigan to the Caribbean is quite an adjustment, from the pace of island life, to the simple fact that the island commonwealth did not recognize the role of the Physician Assistant as a healthcare profession. As a result, Lisa did not work clinically during her four years there. She focused solely on helping build Ross’s simulation program into one ready for full SSH Accreditation.
Lisa credits the preparation for accreditation as vital in shaping not only Ross University’s program but her understanding of simulation and how it could impact her work. “As we went through the process, you begin to realize your program’s strengths and weaknesses. It was so helpful for us to go through that, and learn how to do things better.” She also recognizes the accreditation process as being vital to in helping the program advocate for further resources to allow the program to grow even further.
Lisa’s time in Dominica also provided her the opportunity to meet her future husband, John, who went to medical school at Ross. Upon completion of the program, John and Lisa moved to Queens, New York where John began his residency in Internal Medicine. Lisa, meanwhile, continued to work for Ross, but was once again working in Emergency Medicine at South Nassau Hospital in Queens. After residency, it was time to move back home to Michigan, and the couple of have lived in Detroit ever since. Lisa and John were married in May of this past year.
During the accreditation site visit, Lisa was introduced to Tom Lemaster, now the incoming Chair of the Society’s Accreditation Council. She credits this meeting as the springboard toward her current involvement with the Society and the site review process. “After we were awarded accreditation, I kept in touch with Tom, and in fact, I was blessed to be able to present a couple of times with him at IMSH. It was really great to get to do that!” Lisa completed her first assignment as an Accreditation Site Reviewer in 2016, and she really loves it. “First of all, being a Site Reviewer really keeps you in constant contact with the (accreditation) standards. This has made me a better Simulation Manager at my own facility,” Lisa says. She also states that seeing how other simulation programs do things has helped her understand her program from a different point of view. “It has really challenged me to do things better at my place, and I think that is such a benefit of being a Site Reviewer.”
In addition to her work as a Site Reviewer, Lisa has also been an active member of the Accreditation Business Subcommittee, where she has helped launch the Society’s new online accreditation preparation courses. The focus of these courses is to help programs interested in becoming accredited learn about the various aspects of getting ready to meet the standards set forth by the Society. Lisa has further worked on the creation of the new Fellowship Standards that are currently being introduced. In 2017, Lisa also attained her Certified Healthcare Simulation Operations Specialist.
Over the past year, Lisa began working towards a PhD in Translational Health Sciences from George Washington University. This pursuit fits quite well with her work in simulation. “I think simulation is a translational science. We are taking knowledge and translating it into practice through applying knowledge in the simulated setting.” She states that simulationists have known for a long time that simulation as a methodology has promoted learner knowledge acquisition and retention. But explains now “we are moving into a realm where that knowledge can be transferred into improving patient care and outcomes.”
Even though Lisa is an extremely busy woman, she still finds slivers of time to relax. “I think the thing that I love to do more than just about anything is snowboarding!” Lisa is an avid snowboarder, traveling at least once a year to places like Colorado or Utah to enjoy some fresh powder. In addition, Lisa has also competed in a number of triathlons since 2007, including both sprint and Olympic distance races. For those of you who don’t know, this includes a 1500 meter swim, a 40 kilometer bike ride, and a 10 kilometer run.
The Society for Simulation in Healthcare and the Accreditation Council would like to thank Lisa for her continuing work to further the success of accreditation, and congratulate her on the outstanding career accomplishments she has made to date, and finally her choice as Accreditation Reviewer of the Quarter!
[Read the rest of this article...]