An OxSTaR simulation on Cardiothoracic Critical Care
An OxSTaR simulation on Cardiothoracic Critical Care

Meet Oxford’s award-winning simulation-based education team

The Oxford Simulation, Teaching and Research team (OxSTaR) team have been pioneering the use of simulation-based education (SBE) at Oxford University for over 15 years. Part of the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences, they have grown from two to fourteen members, and the extended team now numbers over 50 from a diverse range of backgrounds. Based at the John Radcliffe Hospital, the OxSTaR Centre provides a psychologically safe learning environment for medical students and multidisciplinary healthcare professionals. 

OxSTaR's work has been recognised by an AdvanceHE Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence (CATE), which celebrates outstanding collaborative impact on teaching and learning and highlights the key role of teamwork in higher education.   Meet some of the members of Oxford's OXSTaR team below and find out more about their work here.

Helen Higham, OxSTaR Director 

Helen Higham, OxSTaR Director Helen Higham, OxSTaR Director
Helen is an Associate Professor in the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences, a Consultant Anaesthetist in the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and Associate Dean for Simulation and Patient Safety in Thames Valley. She has always had a keen interest in medical education and has been the Director of OxSTaR since it opened in 2008. Her joint appointments in the University, Trust and Deanery have facilitated the development of strong working relationships across these organisations, leading to innovative educational programmes to support the development of students and healthcare professionals for the benefit of patients in Oxford and more widely. 

I believe our success as a team has come about because of our common sense of purpose, mutual support, and joy at work – there is a lot of laughter in OxSTaR. It was this team ethos that enabled us to step up to the immense challenges of the pandemic and successfully negotiate those extraordinary times together. We continued teaching and delivered freely accessible educational materials to healthcare students and workers globally to disseminate new skills vital to staff and patient safety during COVID-19. 

Our aim now is to build on the successes of the past 15 years, continue to expand our work using novel learning technologies and drive the research in clinical education and patient safety. I could not be more proud to work with this wonderful team and I’m very much looking forward to what’s coming next. 

Rosie Warren, OxSTaR Manager 

Rosie Warren, OxSTaR ManagerRosie Warren, OxSTaR Manager
Rosie has been OxSTaR’s Manager since 2012 and is an ICU nurse by background. She has been integral in the centre’s success through her passion for multidisciplinary education, her collaborative mentality, and her focus on providing development opportunities for the whole team. She is currently completing her Masters in Patient Safety, with plans to support the expansion of the centre’s teaching and research in Human Factors and Patient Safety. 

I started in OxSTaR as a simulation fellow in 2012 and haven’t left! I’ve worked in many teams both in the NHS and the military, and this team is special because we have a cohesiveness and appreciation of each other’s strengths and capabilities which means we always get a bigger and better result than might otherwise be expected. 

Wendy Washbourn, OxSTaR Administrator 

Wendy Washbourn, OxSTaR AdministratorWendy Washbourn, OxSTaR Administrator
Wendy is OxSTaR’s Administrator and the welcoming face of the centre. She began work as a course administrator but has developed the role into one with many more pro-active and wide-reaching responsibilities. Her infectious positivity has a huge impact on team morale, which was particularly important during the pandemic. 

When I first started in the team I was mainly involved in welcoming people on our courses and sending out certificates, but Helen and Rosie encouraged me to get involved in more of what we do, and I’m now helping to run a leadership programme in the hospital and running international meetings. It’s such an exciting role and I’ve been really surprised by what I’m capable of. 

Alan Inglis, Head Technician 

Alan Inglis, Head TechnicianAlan Inglis, Head Technician
Alan is OxSTaR’s Head Technician and brought a wealth of clinical experience from his nursing background, as well as technical expertise through leading IT projects in healthcare, when he joined the team in 2012. Technical support is absolutely vital for the delivery of educational programmes incorporating simulation and novel learning technologies (such as virtual and augmented reality). Alan leads a team of technicians in the centre who do so much more than the name suggests, ensuring that OxSTaR receives consistently outstanding feedback for its work. 

I think most of what the tech team does in a simulation centre is hidden, and actually it’s a mark of our success when teaching runs smoothly, either in person or online, and our students don’t notice we’re there. When I began this role simulation was relatively new in healthcare and I’ve seen enormous changes in what we can offer in terms of simulating real experiences for students and healthcare professionals, and making a real difference to practice and patient care. The thing that stands out about our team is collaborative approach to what we do – everyone’s expertise and viewpoint is respected, and that makes an enormous difference to the quality of our teaching. 

Hilary Edgcombe, Head of the Global Anaesthesia Team 

Hilary Edgcombe, Head of the Global Anaesthesia Team Hilary Edgcombe, Head of the Global Anaesthesia Team
Hilary is an NHS consultant in the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, with roles in education and simulation. Throughout her training and consultant career Hilary has maintained a strong interest in the provision of safe anaesthesia in low-income settings, with commitments to clinical, training and research projects in sub-Saharan Africa. She is also a founding and active member of the Oxford Global Surgery Group which links clinicians and researchers in Oxford who have global surgical health interests, and offers a global surgery special study module for medical students and an internationally popular short course in global surgery for anaesthetists, obstetricians and surgeons held annually.

'I think the team in OxSTaR is unique because of the pervasive atmosphere of encouragement to develop ideas from all team members and the pro-active mentoring and supporting of others with burgeoning interests inside and outside the team. The global reach the team has achieved is in large part because it is “business as usual” to share perspectives on new ideas and projects in progress. Support within and outside the core team enables us to go above and beyond in commitment to our goals and cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural perspectives enhance our reach and impact by ensuring feasible and context-relevant approaches.'

Laura Vincent, Head of Intensive Care Simulation and Human Factors 

Laura Vincent, Head of Intensive Care Simulation and Human FactorsLaura Vincent, Head of Intensive Care Simulation and Human Factors
Laura has been a part of the team in OxSTaR since she did her Education Fellowship in 2016. She is now a Consultant in Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine and leads simulation-based education in the Oxford Critical Care Unit. Despite being a frontline clinician throughout the pandemic, she was able to focus on supporting healthcare teams in delivering safer care through designing team training which gave multidisciplinary staff confidence in dealing with the extraordinary circumstances and changes in practice that evolved during the pandemic.  

Laura sits across both the Clinical Governance and Education teams in critical care, and through her OxSTaR role delivers human factors and patient safety training across specialties and professional groups throughout Oxford University Hospitals. 

I’m absolutely passionate about high quality education that has a meaningful impact on quality of care, patient safety, staff confidence and staff wellbeing – simulation-based education ticks all these boxes, and never more obviously than during the pandemic. OxSTaR is like an extended family, that I am so proud and thankful to be part of – a high functioning, close-knit and constant team of pluripotent individuals. They have supported me throughout my development as a human factors and simulation specialist and continue to allow me to develop my education career both academically and practically as a Consultant in Intensive Care. When clinical work is challenging, a day spent with the OxSTaR team is rejuvenating and inspiring. I am excited about the endless opportunities ahead for OxSTaR as we develop both our teaching and research capacity. 

Sally Shiels, Head of Virtual Reality Simulation 

Sally Shiels, Head of Virtual Reality SimulationSally Shiels, Head of Virtual Reality Simulation
Sally has been a part of the OxSTaR team since she undertook her Education Fellowship in 2018. She leads the award-winning Virtual Reality Group in the centre and is passionate about providing high quality education for our students, including incorporating novel technologies where they make a real difference. She is a Consultant in Obstetric Anaesthesia at the OUHT and has been teaching using innovative appreciative inquiry techniques both before and during the pandemic, when it was even more important to celebrate and learn from achievements in dynamic and stressful work environments. 

I feel I’ve evolved enormously as an educator through my time working in OxSTaR. In part because the team ethos is so collaborative and supportive, but also because I’ve been given the freedom to drive the projects in virtual reality and appreciative inquiry independently. I’ve been able to build a team that is doing extremely exciting work in this area for the benefit of students and staff in healthcare, and, most importantly, our patients.