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4 Strategies to Avoid Buyer's Remorse PLUS 4 Steps to Grant Funding

March 16, 2021

By Kateri Gabriele


overwhelmed_sim_faculty Do you feel frustration after buying expensive simulation equipment? You thought you were getting exactly what you needed! Then, you found out about additional components or consumables "each sold separately." Other times, the equipment doesn’t quite support your requirement as completely as you hoped….so, you end up cobbling together multiple products to “make it work.” Next, are the hidden "costs" in terms of the amount of time needed to set up before or between students more than you bargained for? Is the maintenance as streamlined as you believed? What is involved in the tear down and storing the equipment when not in use?
Confidently move forward with new purchases by following these steps!

1. Start with a Chart

Make a comparison chart or spreadsheet of features, pricing, and miscellaneous information for each product you are considering to meet your identified objectives. As you evaluate new equipment purchases for your nursing skills lab or simulation program use these next three tips to increase satisfaction with your next purchases.

2. Try Before You Buy

sim_team_creates_equipment_feature_chart Go one step beyond merely asking the sales rep to demo the prospective products. When the vendor rep comes to demonstrate product features, ask if you can run a simulation using the equipment how you intend to incorporate it in your simulation space. Doing so may shed light on the extra work the product needs in set up and tear down. It is useful information to be accounted for in the decision making. Even better, ask if you can evaluate the equipment for a few days to give it a try without a sales pitch that glosses over some of the potential limitations. This will help you set realistic expectations that align with the equipment's capabilities.

3. Identify Ongoing Costs

Work with your vendor rep to clarify the overall long-term price. Is there a training fee for onboarding new users? Discuss extended warranty options, annual service fees, and any required licensing fees (even if they are initially included for a period of time). Ask about consumables that will need to be replaced and how long they usually last.

4. Get Expert Advice

building blocks with expert advice being added Current customers can give you details on how the product is being used at their site. They may provide suggestions for allotting time to get the equipment up and running during initial set up and the requirements for routine use. They may provide insight into their favorite features and what they wish they had known before incorporating the product into their program. You can ask the vendor rep for a name or two of current users, or, join and ask in healthcare simulation Facebook Groups.

Simulation equipment for nursing skills labs or simulation programs can be very expensive. Initial investment price is only one factor among many that should be taken into account when choosing which product is the best fit for your simulations. Share the information you collect in with decision makers to support your case as to why you have chosen the specific product you did.

Need Funding?

If you followed the four steps in the beginning of this blog post, you have a good idea of exactly what you need. You also know the initial and long-term budget investments necessary to ensure you maximize the equipment longevity. What if your program budget doesn’t cover the costs? Grant funding is one way to offset the cost of expanding your simulation equipment. This daunting task is a little more manageable if you keep the following in mind.

1. Conduct a Needs Assessment

Identify what are the current and near-future program needs. Is the program expanding in size or scope? Will you be adding new courses with different equipment needs? Will the space be changing in size? What are the personnel needs that go along with the change? Some programs fall into the trap of buying complex equipment without an implementation plan for using and maintaining it.

2. Identify Support

Simulation teamwork to find grant funding for equipment Finding grant foundations is much easier with the right tools and resources. Your educational institution may have a grant development department that can assist in the discovery of grant opportunities. Some of your colleagues in nearby programs may also be able to shed light on how they have secured funding in the past. Everything is easier with a buddy. Enlist the help of a close colleague, grab a coffee, and start the search.

3. Find a Match

A useful tool to find foundations interested in donating to your program is the Foundation Directory Online (FDO) found at Please note that this is a paid service, but you usually can access the database from your local public library or perhaps even in your university library. Once you have access to the database, you can filter searches to include your location, student population, or even the type of project. The database provides contact information, deadlines, even the grant application requirements.

4. Read the Fine Print

Once you find some foundations interested in supporting your “cause” it is time to write the application(s). The easiest way for foundations to sort through the volume of applicants is to eliminate those applications that do not meet the specific requirements. Be mindful of due dates, all required documents, and staying within word counts. Make sure your otherwise fabulous grant application isn’t rejected because you didn’t follow the rules! Have someone with a strong attention to detail review what you are about to submit making sure you included everything. Here is a getting started document from the US Department of Health and Human Services full of tips for good grant proposals.

Rinse and Repeat

Simulation-based activities are a great way to encourage immersive learning for students. Don’t let costly mistakes set your program back instead of moving it forward! Use the steps in this post to identify what you need, match your expectations with the right equipment, and know how to make it all happen with adequate funding. This is an ongoing process with each new purchase whenever acquiring new products or replacing retired equipment.

Med Admin Training

Do you teach medication administration and need funding for a complete system that includes a dispensing unit, an eMAR, and real barcode scanning for both the patient and the medication? You can request a FREE Grant Template.