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Simulation Center Finances: Calculating Fees and Costs

Created Oct 30 2017, 2:59 PM by LIPPINCOTT NURSING EDUCATION
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Financial Aid

By: Alaina Herrington, NLN Center for Innovation and Simulation in Technology

Freestanding simulation centers total an estimated $200,000 to $1.6 million for start-up costs and at least $15,000 for annual maintenance (Tuoriniemi & Schott-Baer, 2008). This enormous cost can leave organizations looking for creative ways to balance the budget. If you are like me, you have had many organizations interested in using your simulation center, and you have found that while some organizations are willing to pay, others feel they are entitled to use your facility for free or at a discounted rate.

To remain operationally viable and generate revenues, many simulation centers are creating fee schedules to offset some of the operational costs of running their simulation programs. To identify an approximate cost per scenario at my organization, we created a breakdown of charges for each scenario. Here is an example charge sheet for one of our programs.

Calculator-keyboard-accounting-10143446_s-300x200First, we had to identify a “rental” cost for the equipment and manikin. To do so, we queried local rental stores on their pricing practices. These stores reported charging customers, on average, 10 percent of the total equipment purchase price. The managers reported this cost was justified to cover any repair fees and to purchase updated equipment for the future. Using this method, we chose to apply a 1 percent rental fee for equipment such as hospital beds, IV pumps, and manikins. (We initially considered the 10 percent fee; however, some of our equipment costs as much as $100,000, and a $10,000 rental fee seemed outrageous.)

The second step was to input the cost of each supply into our inventory management system. We used WASP Barcode Technology’s inventory system, but many options are available in the marketplace.

Third, we created a scenario “pick sheet” within the system for each scenario.

Using this method, we can generate detailed reports within our organization to evaluate historical activity volumes. One example is a supply utilization report for a particular department or program.  Another report may show us resource constraints that can potentially inhibit operations.

Simulation centers use many different methods to calculate their fees. The detailed breakdown we use allows us to identify everything used in the scenario and justify sustainability costs. We have found that having the knowledge of price per scenario allows us to anticipate our future needs, assess cost verses outcome benefit, and justify outside agency fees.


Tuoriniemi, P., & Schott-Baer, D. (2008). Implementing a high-fidelity simulation program in a community college setting. Nursing Education Perspectives, 29, 105-109.

This article has been republished from the NLNTEQ blog with permission.