Best Practices – Simulation Consortia Part I

By: Cedar Wang, Alaina Herrington, and Melanie Cason

As simulation methods in education are adopted more widely across the practice trajectory, opportunities arise for collaboration through statewide alliances as a means to strategically inform best practices in simulation. A strategic alliance may be defined as a supportive arrangement between two autonomous organizations that share and interchange resources for competitive benefit (Huang, Tzeng, & Ong, 2006). Faculty and hospital educators across each state possess a wealth of knowledge and talent implementing simulation education. How can this knowledge and experience be harnessed for mutual benefit? What is the best model to ensure effectiveness and sustainability of such alliances?

A useful exercise before creating any strategic plan is to perform an assessment of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats, known as a SWOT analysis. This will require gathering information by any means possible including surveys, professional networking, and interviews with key stakeholders. While each state or region has unique needs and varying market climates for simulation adoption, the SWOT matrix shown here serves as a sample tool in considering the creation of a regional or statewide simulation alliance. Using the same technique to evaluate the individual organization’s involvement may be done concurrently.

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The elements listed in the sample SWOT analysis are meant as examples to be considered. Whether an element is listed in the strengths or weaknesses section depends on the perspective of the group completing the analysis. For example, the number of organizations using simulation in a certain area may be numerous, yielding a potential “strength in numbers.” Alternatively, this could be viewed as a weakness as it leads to “siloed” efforts. Funding could be plentiful, a relative strength, or minimal, and therefore seen as a weakness. Generally, opportunities exist on many fronts to strengthen the field of simulation. Joyce (2013) reported a significant increase in the number of federal grants within organizations based on the longevity of collaborative ventures with other organizations.

The goal of the SWOT process is to assess the organizations, not to determine superiority one over another. An example is MUSIC, a consortium of 43 urology practices in the state of Michigan, which has shown improvement in patient care based on collaborative data collection (Nakada, 2016). One of MUSIC’s fundamental principles is a focus on consortium efforts. This principle has been a catalyst for progress and sustainability.

Simulation alliances can be beneficial. However, collaboration can also bring competition, which can be viewed as a threat. The evaluation of threats will be different for each organization and region. Statewide and regional simulation consortia have great potential to promote innovation and strengthen the study and practice of simulation methodologies as evidenced by existing different statewide simulation initiatives (California, Maryland, and Tennessee) that are finding more ways to work together and collaborate.

This is the first post of a four part statewide initiative blog series, in which the authors will further discuss what works and what doesn’t, outcomes, and the projected evolution of simulation consortia.



Huang, J., Tzeng, G., & Ong, C. (2006). Choosing best alliance partners and allocating optimal alliance resources using the fuzzy multi-objective dummy programming model. Journal of the Operational Research Society, 57(10), 1216-1223.

Joyce, J. N. (2013). Developing a sustainable research culture in an independent academic medical center. Journal of Research Administration, 44(1), 75-90.

Nakada, S. Y. (2016). MUSIC: How statewide initiative is improving care, outcomes. Urology Times, 44(13), 18-22.

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