SSH President Announces Passing of Dr. Abrahamson, Medical Simulation Pioneer

From Pam Jeffries, SSH President:

Dr. AbrahamsonDr. Steve Abrahamson, Pioneer in Healthcare Simulation, (1921 – 2014)

July 15, 2014: Dr. Stephen Abrahamson, a pioneer in healthcare simulation who helped to develop Sim One, the first healthcare manikin, passed away Monday, July 14. He was 93.

The path to healthcare simulation started in 1964 when Dr. Abrahamson, then Director of the Division of Research at the University of Southern CaliforniaSchool of Medicine, was challenged to use computers in the medical school. Dr. Abrahamson saw the potential to use computers to help medical school educators improve education and outcomes.  His idea that an anesthesia student could learn from data rather than using a patient was unprecedented.

A collaborative effort among engineers, physicians, researchers and educators, Sim One allowed anesthesiologists to experience life-like interaction with a computer-driven manikin. A 1967 film of Sim One brought Dr. Abrahamson’s work to the attention of national media including interviews by Time Magazine, Life Magazine and Newsweek Magazine. While Sim One made national headlines, the medical community responded negatively, doubting the value of healthcare simulation.


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Dr. Abrahamson lived to see his groundbreaking work become standard and widely accepted. Today, healthcare simulation is included in training of healthcare professionals worldwide.

Some notable awards that Dr. Abrahamson had received included:

  • Samuel C Harvey Memorial Lecture Award – 1981 – American Association for Cancer Education
  • Hubbard Award 1986- National Board of Medical Examiners
  • Merrell Flair Award in Medical Education – 1992 – Association of American Medical Colleges
  • Gravenstein award – 2000 -Society for Technology in Anesthesia
  • Simulation Innovation Award -2014 – Society for Simulation in Healthcare

On behalf of SSH and those within the simulation community, we want to express our condolences to the Abrahamsons family and friends.  The Society for Simulation in Healthcare is so pleased to have honored Dr. Abrahamson last year at IMSH in San Francisco.  Personal notes and condolences can be sent to Phil Abrahamson (pabrahamson46@yahoo.com), son of Dr. Abrahamson, who accepted his father’s award last January.


Shown here is the interview which played at IMSH 2014 between Dr. Abrahamson and Dr. Gaba, which highlighted Steve’s amazing story about building SimONE:


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