Developing Best Practices for Statewide Simulation Initiatives

By: Beth Hallmark and Alaina Herrington

Tennessee Simulation Alliance (Beth)

The Tennessee Simulation Alliance began as a means to provide Tennessee nurse educators with a central location for communication, collaboration, and sharing. A national collaborative initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Northwest Health Foundation provided the initial funding with the goal of establishing a stable, adequate nursing workforce.

 The Tennessee Simulation Alliance (TSA) actually began after a simulation conference in 2008. In the last 10 years, the TSA has been sustained through the work of a small group of volunteers who are committed to the mission and vision. The grassroots work of this group does not necessarily represent “best practice,” but we have formed a strong professional and personal bond that has been key to our success.

Following best practice, the TSA eventually developed a governance structure and set forth defined bylaws to ensure continuity and the longevity of the organization. Some lessons we have learned from the last 10 years are as follows:

  1. Find your people, those who will work hard and pitch in, even when the work is thankless.
  2. Find corporate sponsors who also believe in your vision and mission. We have been able to sustain our conference for the past 10 years primarily because of the support of the industry.
  3. Network with other organizations that share your mission.
  4. Develop regional directors. The directors of the three regions of Tennessee help support local work. This fall we will host our first regionally sponsored event.
  5. Have monthly leadership meetings. We schedule our monthly meetings a year in advance as we are all very busy. Scheduling ahead ensures that we meet to plan our events.

The TSA is now an affiliate organization of the Tennessee Hospital Association (THA), which supports our membership in various ways, providing members access to patient safety education, providing billing services, and helping manage our money.  Another goal of our alliance is to evaluate our progress each year. Evaluation is crucial for determining next steps.  Finally, networking with all stakeholders is an essential step in long-term success. We are proud of the last 10 years and will continue to work to move our organization forward.

Mississippi Healthcare Simulation Alliance (Alaina)

The Mississippi (MS) Center for Quality and Workforce (MCQW) and the MS Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) instituted the Mississippi Healthcare Simulation Alliance (MHSA) in 2009 based on findings from a feasibility study that reinforced the need for schools of nursing to begin simulation implementation. SimHealth, a group specializing in simulation facility design, instructor training, program assessment, development, and implementation, was brought in to assist with implementing simulation education in the state.

The SimHealth study revealed the top priority for the state was to form a statewide simulation alliance devoted to teaching and encouraging best practice simulation educational activities. The MHSA hosted 10 simulation foundations workshops for 141 nurse faculty, and 4 advanced simulation training workshops were taught by SimHealth consultants. In 2015, the initial grant money used to fund the MHSA was exhausted and the alliance dispersed for a short time until, in 2016, a group tried to regenerate the efforts. However, without grant funding, the collaboration struggled to accomplish its goals and another educational solution was needed.

In 2017, to support simulation education in the state, the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) created the Mississippi Academy for Simulation Training (MAST) with financial assistance from the Robert M. Hearin Foundation. The goal was to establish a unique statewide coordination of simulation-based training for the nursing workforce.

In spring 2018, free, online simulation educator training was developed based on a statewide Program Assessment Survey for Simulation (Beroz, 2017). Starting in the summer, the training allowed each school of nursing to send one faculty member through the course each semester. In addition, each school has access to the new UMMC simulation education facilities.

Thirteen participants completed the first cohort, and 14 participants are currently enrolled in the fall 2018 cohort. MAST will soon host a free mini-simulation conference and partner with the Mississippi Board of Nursing to teach all Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) instructors throughout the state simulation foundations in an onsite course.

One of the top priorities for Mississippi is to have an organization devoted to teaching and encouraging best practice simulation educational activities. While an organization may not always look like the typical state simulation alliance, the possibilities for how simulation educator needs can be met are limitless. Education can take a variety of forms. As funding sources can run out and create a strain on existing simulation alliances or groups, the most important take home lesson for educators is to think outside the box and create solutions to provide the needed training.

Suggestions for state simulation funding:

  1. Local foundations
  2. Legislature
  3. Hospital associations
  4. Dues from membership


Beroz, S. (2017).  A statewide survey of simulation practices using the NCSBN simulation guidelines. Clinical Simulation in Nursing, 13, 270-277.  doi:10.1016/j.ecns.2017.03.005

One thought

  1. Wow! Great news. Connecticut also has the Healthcare Simulation Network of Connecticut (HSNCT) hosted by the Connecticut League for Nursing. Group of over 90 simulation professionals from academia and practice. This week 45 of them are attending the SSI prep course for the Certified Heathcare Simulation Educator (CHSE) credential begin held in CT at Yale School of Nursing and Naugatuck Valley Community College. We are so fortunate to have the engagement, passion and expertise in the specialty of simulation in CT!

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