HSC wins bronze in International Serious Play Awards

Ebelew 740x1024 (1)The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth recently won a bronze award from the prestigious international Serious Play Conference. The organization honors outstanding digital and board/tabletop games used for training, education or other game-based learning programs.

Designed with other HSC collaborators by Emily Belew, MHA, LNFA, instructor in the School of Public Health’s Master of Health Administration program, the interactive board game provides a look into the complex roles and challenges faced by administrators who lead high-performance health care organizations.

Serious Play Awards BelewThe game, called “Administrator Adventure,” was designed as an educational tool to introduce students to common health system care settings and the three key categories of quality, workforce and resources.

By playing collaboratively, students are able to mitigate negative events while preparing for real-world challenges in health management and policy. HSC MHA students have played the game in classes, and a group of Tarrant County College students participated in spring 2023.

Players take on different roles and goals as they work with limited resources to provide the best possible patient care at the lowest cost in the shortest amount of time.

Serious Play Awards BelewThis highly collaborative game design was built through a partnership between Belew; HSC instructional designer Traci Butler Carroll; HSC graphic designer Andy Pottkotter; Adam van Fossen, senior instructional media specialist; Dr. Colbey Walker, SPH assistant professor of health administration and health policy; Stephen McBroom, HSC director of educational media; and Nicholas Alexander, HSC instructional media specialist.

The Serious Play Conference is for professionals seeking to elevate their skills in the use of game-based learning. Speakers from around the world share their knowledge and experience as attendees participate in workshops, informal sessions and networking. The games and simulations are designed for play and learning in corporations, classrooms and health care institutions, as well as governmental, military and other industries.

“We paid great attention to detail in content design of the cards and game rules to make the simulations as factual as possible, while also allowing for some humor to lessen the heavy burden of these challenging scenarios. The game’s realistic nature allows for a robust debrief experience of the tools and practices administrators adopt in the real world as they seek high-performance in their organizations,” Belew said.

Walker explained, “The game provides an approachable way to learn about the role of a health care administrator. These are very complex positions, so they’re often not fully understood or get oversimplified in the effort to explain them clearly. With ‘Administrator Adventure,’ we took special care to ensure the game portrays the complexity and significance of an administrator’s role, while still being fun and engaging. This gives those who play the game, both at an undergraduate and graduate level, a good sense of how health care administrators can and do contribute to the health of our communities.”

Walked noted that a key theme the collaborators wanted to highlight is the significant impact that inter- and intra-organizational collaboration can have on the care being delivered.

“There is no doubt that our patients and communities are healthier when we work together, and through ‘Administrator Adventure,’ we hope to help future health care administrators understand the value of working together with colleagues and providers across the continuum,” Walker added.

John M. McKenzie, M.A., M.S., HSC executive director of academic innovation, noted that the game was designed to encourage system-level thinking and collaboration.

“We also wanted the players to step into the role of a health care administrator and begin experiencing some of the challenges that they could encounter along with some of the tools they can use to remedy those challenges. It’s been exciting to see what an engaging and collaborative process this has been. This is a prestigious and rare award to receive,” he said.

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