What’s in a Name? Developing a Sustainable Alliance/Consortium for Safe, Competent Practice: Part 1

By: Sabrina Beroz and Beth Hallmark

Alliances and consortiums are popping up frequently to bridge the needs of growing simulation networks. They can be found in states including Arizona, California, and Florida. What do they all have in common and what are their differences?

 You might hear the words alliance and consortium used interchangeably. Let’s begin with definitions. According to the dictionary (www.merriam-webster.com) an alliance is “an association to further the common interests of the members.” A consortium, on the other hand,  is defined as an “agreement, combination, or group … formed to undertake an enterprise beyond the resources of any one member.”

Simulation consortia and alliances are born out of interest for advancing the science of simulation, to enable educators in academia and practice organizations to deliver education, resources, and/or consultation services to stakeholders. The common goal is to ultimately enhance patient safety. The authors of this blog have played a vital role in the vision, planning, implementation, and evaluation of two statewide simulation initiatives (one in year 2 and one in year 10 of start-up).


The Tennessee Simulation Alliance (TNSA) started as a national collaborative: A Promise of Nursing grant through the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Northwest Health Foundation that was designed for establishing a stable, adequate nursing workforce and to provide education in the areas of simulation and telehealth. The TNSA began as a means to provide Tennessee nurse educators a central location for communication, collaboration, and sharing around the pedagogy of simulation. It currently supports simulation educators in all disciplines. Initially there was no charge for membership in the TNSA, but under the current structure, the Alliance is an affiliate member of the Tennessee Hospital Association (THA) and, because of the costs incurred, there is a nominal fee of $50.00 per year. Paying this fee allows members to access the website and gain access to the THA’s Tennessee Center for Patient Safety.

In 2007, the TNSA held its first conference, and it recently completed its 10th annual event. The yearly conference attracts folks from across the state to hear national speakers and provides an opportunity for interprofessional collaboration. Many members do not have the budget to attend national conferences, but the high profile speakers at the TNSA conference expose them to national initiatives and standards. The conference also exposes attendees to high profile vendors and their simulation products.

In 2015, the TNSA sponsored a CHSE course to help prepare leaders to sit for the Certified HealthCare Simulation Educator Exam. The TNSA also provides members with a discussion forum for collaboration. Through the relationship with THA, members can access educational events sponsored by the THA, such as CAUTI training using simulation. Future plans include regional workshops to help develop simulation educators in debriefing skills and accreditation.  However, the primary benefit is that the TNSA offers a supportive network for educators within Tennessee, someone to call for support in an often isolated position.

The Maryland Clinical Simulation Resource Consortium (MCSRC) is in its second year of a five-year statewide funding initiative authorized under the auspices of the Nurse Support Program II and jointly approved by the Health Services Cost Review Commission and the Maryland Higher Education Commission. It has three main objectives: 1) education, 2) evaluation, and 3) optimization of material and equipment used in educating nurses.

The first year began with the formation of a 16-member steering committee, which functions in an advisory role. The members represent academia, practice, and simulation experts across all five regions of Maryland. An assessment was conducted to identify current statewide simulation practices, supporting the development of a curriculum for an annual three-day Train the Trainer program. The assessment found the need for three levels of education: novice, competent, and expert. Two working subcommittees were established: 1) A curriculum subcommittee was established to create a program of study for the Train the Trainer program. 2) A Material and Equipment Subcommittee (MES) was establsihed to develop processes for awarding material and equipment. The MES has developed a rubric for the application and review process and has recommended anonymous external reviewers for the selection of awardees. Lastly, an evaluation plan was established through collaboration with an external evaluator. As we move through year 2, additional services in simulation education will be added such as onsite workshops and video productions for our website.

LOOK for a sequel to this blog on lessons learned and ten steps to developing a consortium or alliance.


Leave a Reply