Children’s of Alabama Community Healthcare Education Simulation (COACHES) Program

The mission of the Children’s of Alabama Community Healthcare Education Simulation (COACHES) Program is to utilize simulation in a structured environment to promote excellence in pediatric clinical care, patient safety and education for all healthcare practitioners and care teams throughout the state of Alabama. Our vision for the COACHES Program is the development of a mobile multidisciplinary simulation institution of excellence to provide high-fidelity simulation to community providers to promote education, research and the delivery of safe, innovative health care for children.

For more information contact Chrystal Rutledge, MD at or Kristen Waddell at


  • Enhance clinical skills competence among health care professionals by using simulation-based curricula to demonstrate basic pediatric knowledge and clinical practice in their own environment.

  • Assess community hospitals’ readiness to care for pediatric patients.

  • Improve clinical skills and responses to unusual pediatric emergency/critical care situations.

  • Establish local, regional and national partnerships.

  • Promote adult learning in a safe, structured environment using medical simulation.

  • Improve patient safety and quality of patient and family care through team building and clinical decision making using simulation based medical education.

  • Improve teamwork, enhance communication skills and build team leadership skills among multi-disciplinary health care teams.

  • Foster collaborative research and contribute to pediatric education in the field of medical simulation.

  • Enhance community awareness and involvement in medical simulation.

  • Develop innovative uses of medical simulation to promote pediatric health care.

Program Description

A pediatric simulation outreach team – consisting of a pediatric critical care physician, a nurse educator and simulation technologist – will travel to community hospitals throughout Alabama. Each hospital will be contacted to schedule day-long visits in either their emergency department or pediatric inpatient floor which will include assessments related to pediatric readiness. Immediately following completion of the readiness assessment, morning and afternoon simulation sessions will be conducted with different team members to evaluate community hospital health care team performance when caring for critically ill pediatric patients. Two sessions with different teams will be conducted to ensure a more comprehensive representation of each hospital’s performance. For each scenario, a medical management checklist consisting of national care guidelines or best practice metrics will be used to evaluate hospital health care team performance. Team communication will be evaluated using a validated tool. Each simulation scenario will be followed immediately by a debriefing with team members. The debriefing will be focused on positive and negative aspects of medical management, communication, and barriers to patient care including suggestions to overcome them. Training in pediatric care skills, such as intravenous line placement, will be provided following simulation scenarios. A report including the results of the survey as well as the overall performance score for both sessions will be presented to each hospital. The report will also detail how well each hospital performed compared to Children’s of Alabama (performance standard). Any latent safety issues will also be identified with a proposed plan for improvement.

COACHES was made possible through the philanthropy of Dr. Joseph B. and Cornelia B. LaRussa.