The COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated pedagogical change with many events virtual or hybrid in nature. Simulation events are particularly affected due to their hands-on quality. In addition, requirement for virtual facilitators may be increased compared with in-person counterparts. Virtual simulation education must be as high quality as in-person efforts and facilitator training is key. Some principles of virtual facilitation differ from in-person, for example, in relation to debriefing 
. Effective education should be tailored to address these differences.
The aim of the study was to deliver virtual facilitator education addressing the format, objectives, expectations and strategies for virtual IP simulations.
The traditional in-person Facilitator Training and Inter-professional Education (IPE) Event Training Design course our university-affiliated program delivers was adapted based on a local needs assessment to the virtual Facilitating Virtual Simulations Crash Course. This was delivered as required as small-group Zoom-based teaching, outlining educational theory, practice and principles of virtual simulation facilitation.
Sixteen virtual inter-professional simulations have been delivered for students in 19 professions within our Office of IPE since September 2020 with 33 inter-professional facilitators from 4 institutions. To determine the efficacy of our novel virtual facilitation, training facilitators were surveyed. The majority had facilitated one to five simulations (in-person 58%, virtual 70%). In addition to the Office of IPE training, 30% of facilitators had received external education on in-person simulation facilitation compared with 6% for virtual facilitation. The majority of facilitators strongly agreed/agreed that they were as effective a facilitator in virtual simulations (80%), as confident facilitating virtually (70%), as psychologically safe in virtual debriefings (75%), and that virtual simulations will continue in their practice after the pandemic (100%). Most (95%) facilitators strongly agreed/agreed that students were as engaged with virtual simulations as with in-person and 80% felt virtual simulations were a good learning experience for students. The majority (88%) of facilitators strongly agreed/agreed that the virtual crash course provided the knowledge and practice to help them effectively facilitate virtually, and 75% strongly agreed/agreed that the crash course made them appreciate and foster IP relationships in their daily work. These results are comparable to evaluation of in-person training delivered before the pandemic.
Implications for practice:
Virtual simulation events require specific facilitation strategies, and virtual education is useful to improve the knowledge and confidence of facilitators. Facilitators value the virtual simulation experience for themselves and their students, and they believe that this will be an important pedagogy post-pandemic.