Coastal Alabama becomes first Alabama community college to obtain simulation accreditation

Published 10:13 am Monday, December 18, 2023

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Special to the Advance

Coastal Alabama Community College is now Alabama’s only community college with simulation accreditation, bolstering the school’s Nursing and Allied Health division and the futures of its students and vast community partners. The transition from provisional to full accreditation was recently facilitated by the Society for Simulation in Healthcare (SSH).
The college’s two simulation labs — located in Atmore and Fairhope — feature high-tech mannequins and monitoring equipment that provide access to guided, yet autonomous, learning in a safe environment that affords educational opportunities in the areas of critical thinking, clinical judgment, teamwork, communication, collaboration, delegation, and prioritization.
“We’ve been studying it long enough now to see the benefits of students performing in a simulated environment, and how that improves patient outcomes,” said Dr. Carmen Godfrey, Coastal Alabama Community College’s Nursing and Allied Health Simulation Lab Coordinator. “Because we can guarantee a reproducible educational experience for students every time they come.”
Simulation technology has become a major part of training healthcare workers, whether they are eventually becoming registered nurses, emergency medical service providers or any other number of professionals within the industry. Thanks to a variety of grants and other funding, Coastal Alabama Community College’s two simulation labs are stocked with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of mannequins and connected equipment.
The administration is also looking at interdisciplinary collaboration through the simulation labs, bridging into other programs such the newly accredited Respiratory Care Therapy Program, Medical Assistant Technology and Medical Laboratory Technology Programs.
“We want to bring all of those new programs to the table and offer those students a similar experience in simulation that’s specific to their program of choice,” said Dr. Tiffany Scarborough, Dean of Nursing and Allied Health.
The robustness of the sim lab program and it being the only one of its kind is a tremendous recruitment tool, be it for graduates — all of who are almost immediately hired by healthcare companies — and those industrial partners, as well.
Accreditation in a particular field or program ensures a college maintains a certain level of quality, which opens up other opportunities for funding and broader reach, Scarborough said.
“This is really important, because the coronavirus pandemic really illuminated the possibility of having to find alternative means to obtain clinical hours for students,” she said. “And being accredited makes us more marketable because organizations can see that we’ve been recognized not only by our peers, but by the board at SSH, as a quality program that’s accountable for what it does.”
There is so much possible thanks to the community and system investment in the simulation labs, as well as Godfrey’s dedication as the college’s board-certified healthcare simulation educator.
“Dr. Godfrey’s passion for the students, and her care and concern for the community that we serve, is what drives her,” Scarborough said. “She is a true leader, loyal and one of the most innovative people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing.”
In January, Godfrey will travel to San Diego, CA, to serve on several panels during an international healthcare simulation conference, where Coastal Alabama Community College will also be recognized.

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