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 the bridge needs of growing simulation networks; Arizona, California, Florida,….What do they all have in common and what are their differences. You might hear these words used interchangeably. Let’s begin with the definition of an alliance; “an association to further the common interests of the members” (Webster, 2016, para. 2). Alternately, a consortium is defined as an “agreement, combination, or group … formed to undertake an enterprise beyond the resources of any one member” (Merriam-Webster, 2016, para.1).
Simulation consortiums and alliances are born out of an interest for advancing the science of simulation where educators in academia and practice organize 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 highlighted two statewide simulation initiatives (one in year two and one in year ten of start-up) where they have played a vital role in the vision, planning, implementation and evaluation of each program.
The Tennessee Simulation Alliance (TNSA) started as a national collaborative: A Promise of Nursing grant through the RWJ 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 and currently supports simulation educators in all disciplines. Initially there was no charge for membership in the Alliance, 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 $50.00 a year fee; allowing 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 has just completed their 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 the attendees to high profile vendors and their simulation products. In 2015, the TNSA sponsored a CHSE course to help prepare leaders in TN to sit for the Certified HealthCare Simulation Educator Exam. In addition to the yearly conferences, the TNSA provides members with a discussion forum where members in the state can collaborate and through the relationship with the 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 in TN; a person 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 with 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 functioning in an advisory role. The members represent academia, practice, and simulation experts across all five regions in 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. Curriculum subcommittee to create a program of study for the Train the Trainer program and 2. Material and Equipment Subcommittee (MES) to develop processes for awarding material and equipment. The MES developed a rubric for the application and review process, and 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 two, 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.
Merriam-Webster (2016). Alliance. Retrieved from
Merriam-Webster (2016). Alliance. Retrieved from