TIFTON, Ga. — Earlier this week, the Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovation announced plans to evaluate the development of a regional medical education simulation and training center.

The project’s goals are to build academic and clinical partnerships across south Georgia and to enhance experiential learning opportunities for students and providers while serving as a focal point and catalyst for the development, understanding and advancement of simulation and related technologies throughout the region, according to a statement on the center’s blog.

“Building capacity for health care simulation and training will aid in the development of the region’s health professions workforce while stimulating local economies,” said David Bridges, director of the Rural Center. “Additionally, this project will support the improvement of health care indicators, health care delivery and health outcomes in south Georgia.”

As health care delivery and related technology continue to grow in complexity, simulation centers also are evolving to provide clinicians and students with the most realistic educational experiences possible, the center said. Aligning academic, clinical and government resources to create a regional center will allow for the development and application of new methodologies and technologies in training and education for physicians, nurses, residents, first responders, students, caregivers and others.

The Rural Center project will focus on a regional needs assessment and market share analysis. Consultants with Tripp Umbach will work collaboratively with the center to conduct these studies, reporting findings at a September 2019 symposium. Tripp Umbach is a renowned independent consulting firm that works nationally and internationally to provide community health needs assessments, economic impact studies, feasibility studies, economic development and market research to over 1,000 clients. As the national leader in economic impact studies and consultation services for academic medical campuses and medical schools, Tripp Umbach’s expertise in this field will be invaluable to the project.

“Evaluating the opportunity to develop a transformational platform for collaboration among such a wide variety of stakeholders is exciting in that it could have the potential to drive both health and economic development in south Georgia,” said Paul Umbach, Tripp Umbach founder and president.

Simulation links theory to practice. Simulated training has a direct and immediate impact on patient safety and quality in clinical facilities and is an integral part of training students and residents, the center said. The growth in technology means simulating realistic experiences in a range of scenarios, from simple blood draws to complicated cases. Simulation allows all medical professionals to maintain confidence in skills by replicating scenarios in a no-harm situation. This becomes even more critical in a rural region like southwest Georgia, where timely treatment and efficiency can be influenced by proximity to the nearest hospital and trauma center.

Housed at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton, Georgia’s Rural Center serves as a central information and research hub for rural best practices, which may include community planning, industry-specific assistance and cooperative efforts with state and federal entities, nonprofit organizations and other higher education partners.

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