TTUHSC-El Paso’s ‘Wizard of Oz’ recognized with global honor


Hector J. Aranda | Courtesy of TTUHSC El Paso

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — There’s no place like home, and a behind-the-scenes specialist in El Paso is being recognized for advanced medical efforts.

J. Hector Aranda, a certified healthcare simulation operations specialist (CHSOS) at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso, is being honored as an advanced simulation technology specialist.

TTUHSC-El Paso says Aranda can relate to L. Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz in that he works behind-the-scenes and ahead-of-the-curve when it comes to cultivating local healthcare workers.

Aranda was part of an inaugural group of certified healthcare simulation operations specialists lauded this spring for being advanced in his field, earning the designation of CHSOS-A. 

He was one of 25 specialists around the globe to receive the distinction, awarded by the Society for Simulation in Healthcare (SSH).

To receive the recognition, Aranda submitted a portfolio to SSH of accomplishments that demonstrate the impact of his work at regional and national levels. Additionally, he provided examples of simulation activity, technology innovation, and projects demonstrating advanced capacity.

“It gave us an opportunity to showcase ourselves. In our line of work, we’re usually working in the background where if everything goes right, no one notices you,” Aranda said. “Being one of the first 25 to be selected by my peers is an honor. It shows the work behind the scenes is recognized. I feel the work we’ve done at TTUHSC El Paso justifies the advanced level designation.”

The 25 members of the cohort have advanced skills that demonstrate leadership and influence within the healthcare communities that extend outside their communities.

“TECHS is extremely proud of Mr. Aranda. His recognition as a CHSOS-A highlights his dedication to delivering high-quality, simulation-based activities,” Dr. Crawford said. “We’re proud he’s supported the growth of simulations on our campus. He’s also shared his knowledge through conferences and scholarly works.”

In El Paso, Aranda is instrumental at TTUHSC-El Paso’s Training and Educational Center for Healthcare Simulation (TECHS), where he serves as a faculty associate and as the associate director of technical operations.

The TECHS center gives students, residents, faculty, and outside entities at the Foster School of Medicine and Hunt School of Nursing the opportunity to practice diagnosing and treating patients using high-fidelity manikins, virtual reality simulators, role-playing “standardized patients,” as well as other methods and equipment designed to simulate real-world medical experiences.

For example, the TECHS center has overseen large-scale emergency drills led by simulation operations specialists that helped prepare TTUHSC-El Paso alumni and students to care for the victims of the August 3, 2019 mass shooting at the Cielo Vista Walmart in East El Paso.

Many victims were taken to University Medical Center (UMC), where residents practice and also where many medical and nursing students complete their clinical rotations. 

Moreover, residents and students training at TECHS were able to utilize the many simulations and other opportunities for hands-on training amid the COVID-19 pandemic that compensated for training that may have been delayed in teaching hospitals.

“It’s rewarding to know you had something to do with the growth of future doctors and nurses for our area,” Aranda said. “I’ve been here 26 years, and I’ve seen TTUHSC El Paso grow. What this institution has accomplished over the years is inspiring, and I’m happy to be a part of that.”

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