Mississippi Academy for Simulation Training

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Mississippi Academy for Simulation Training

In 2017, the Hearin Foundation provided a four-year grant to the University of Mississippi Medical Center to begin the Mississippi Academy for Simulation Training (MAST). The MAST mission is to provide statewide simulation educator training, access to University of Mississippi Medical Center Simulation Centers through the Office of Interprofessional Simulation, Training, Assessment, Research & Safety (ISTARS), and communicate a statewide expectation for recognition of the value of pedagogically-advanced training curricula, contemporary educational/workplace communication techniques, and the highest ethical standards in the use of simulation in healthcare education. 


The vision of MAST is to enhance lifelong learning among faculty, staff, students, and the community by enhancing the professional development of health care leaders throughout Mississippi, which will enhance patient safety and the quality of health care through the use of high-fidelity simulation technology.

History of the program

In 2017, the Hearin Foundation provided a four-year grant to UMMC to begin the MAST. This grant was designed to establish a unique statewide coordination of simulation-based training for the nursing workforce. Through the grant, UMMC will provide a statewide free/low cost simulation educator training, access to the new UMMC simulation education facilities, and the development of common benchmarks for simulation education.

Research shows there will be a large nursing shortage in the near future. Mississippi schools of nursing are trying to meet the future needs of the population. However, clinical sites are becoming less of an option for schools to utilize for students to complete their curriculum. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) has approved simulation replacing clinical hours up to 50% time if all simulation guidelines are met (Alexander et al., 2015). Using simulation to replace clinical time will allow schools of nursing to compensate for the loss in clinical sites and allow for more nursing graduates to meet the demands of the state of MS’s predicted nursing shortage. However, in order for simulation to be utilize, schools of nursing must meet the NCSBN Guidelines. These guidelines require that:

  • There is a commitment on the part of the school for the simulation program;
  • The program has appropriate facilities for conducting simulation;
  • The program has the educational and technical resources and equipment to meet the intended objectives;
  • Lead faculty and simulation laboratory personnel are qualified to conduct simulation;
  • Faculty are prepared to lead simulations; and
  • The program has an understanding of policies and processes that are a part of the simulation experience, appropriate facilities for conducting simulation.

Many schools of nursing do not have appropriate facilities for conducting simulation, as simulation equipment is costly and requires continuous maintenance and upkeep.  In addition, many of the nursing educators in the state are not qualified to conduct simulations because they have not been trained in simulation pedagogy.  This type of training is very limited within our state and can cost $2500 or more per educator.  The investment made in simulation education facilities and personnel by the Robert M. Hearin Foundation and the University of Mississippi Medical Center provides state-of-the-art resources and educators to address these concerns.

Free simulation educational opportunities

simulation_mast_champion-01_04302018.pngThe Mississippi Academy for Simulation Training (MAST) offers a free online simulation foundation course to all nursing educators throughout the state of Mississippi. A Dean may nominate one nursing faculty member to participate in each cohort. Participants will receive 25.5 CEUs and have the option of completing a final course project to receive a digital credential in simulation education. To nominate a faculty member at your school, complete the MAST Faculty Online Foundations Training Request Form.

In addition to offering this free course, starting MAST offers each institution approximately two days per semester of clinical simulation practice at the UMMC School of Medicine's Office of Interprofessional Simulation, Training, Assessment, Research, and Safety (ISTARS) Center.  The Robert M. Hearin Foundation has generously provided for partial reimbursement (up to $1000/approved application/institution) to reimburse travel costs for faculty and students.  Faculty facilitating their students at the SIEC must have been either through the MAST Foundations Course or had equivalent coursework.  To schedule onsite simulation education for your school, complete the MAST On-site Student Group Simulation Request Form.



Rebecca K. Cockrell occupies the position of Director of the UMMC MAST. She is serving in a part-time capacity while she maintains her current position at the Dr. George Ball Simulation Center of Hinds Community College. The MAST is supported by a grant from the Robert M. Hearin Support Foundation to advance best practices in simulation education in nursing across the state of Mississippi. 

The founding director of MAST, Alaina Herrington, has transitioned to serve as the director of the Judith G. Gore Clinical Skills Center at UMMC, which focuses on delivering simulation education through standardized patient interactions.

Cockrell has been a nurse for over 14 years working in multiple areas such as medical/surgical, psychiatric and home health nursing, education, and simulation. She became the director of the Ball Simulation Center in January 2018. In that position, she has successfully initiated development of a five discipline progressive simulation, a campus wide competition to integrate simulation into the classroom, learning labs and simulation center and the use of high fidelity simulation in a state wide, multiple-agency disaster drill.  

Cockrell's educational background includes a BFA from the University of Southern Mississippi in Theatre, an AAS-ADN from Hinds Community College and a MSN in Nursing Education from University of Mississippi Medical Center. 

She was selected as a National League for Nursing (NLN) 2019 Simulation Leader. Cockrell is a Certified Healthcare in Simulation Educator (CHSE), and Society of Simulation in Healthcare (SSH) Accreditation Site Reviewer. She is member of the awards committee for the International Nursing Association for Clinical Simulation and Learning (INACSL) and a member of the convention planning committee for the Organization of Associate Degree Nursing (OADN). She has written for the National League of Nursing TEQ blog, and has presented at several international, national and local conferences.