Southeastern Community College creates state-of-the-art simulation lab

Southeastern Community College creates state-of-the-art simulation lab

October 26, 2023

In 2020, the Golden LEAF Board of Directors awarded $500,000 to Southeastern Community College through the Community-Based Grants Initiative to help solve a critical shortage in nursing staff in Columbus County and the surrounding region.

“We started the simulation program in 2011 with just one mannequin,” said Gail Auten, Southeastern Community College Simulation Lab Coordinator. “I joined the Simulation Council, and we met at other colleges and universities to tour simulation labs.”

Auten was able to learn about the advantages and disadvantages of simulation equipment for nursing and other healthcare students. She decided that a simulation lab would move the Southeastern Community College’s programs forward to meet the demand of area employers and provide her students with the best education possible.

“I had a dream of creating a state-of-the-art simulation lab with a realistic emergency room,” said Auten. “I have been with the college for 27 years and will retire in November happy to have fulfilled this dream to have what other healthcare programs have or better at Southeastern Community College.”

Golden LEAF funding provided Southeastern Community College’s Sim Lab with a variety of simulation mannequins and other simulation equipment.

“Southeastern Community College moved the Sim Lab to a much larger space to create an emergency room setting and to provide more space for the equipment and students during the funding period,” said Auten. “The Sim Lab has been an effective tool in attracting new students.”

To date 97 students have completed at least one curriculum program; 56 students have completed at least one continuing education program; and 125 students have earned one industry/third party certification, license, or other credential.

“All of our students are offered jobs before they graduate,” said Auten. “We have a really good reputation for turning out high caliber students. In the spring of 2023, all of our Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) and Practical Nurse (PN) students received 100% on their board exams.”

Although Auten is retiring in November, she is excited about what the future holds for Columbus County.

“The Sim Lab and our healthcare programs are a big attraction for the Early College and other students straight out of high school,” said Auten. “We now have six faculty at the college that were former students of mine years ago. I have taught many of my students children as well.”

Auten attributes Golden LEAF’s funding for the Sim Lab’s quality and success.

“The Sim Lab would not have happened without Golden LEAF,” said Auten. “There is not a lot of funding out there for rural colleges in economically distressed counties. Golden LEAF recognizes that gap and steps in to help even the playing field. For that, I am truly grateful.”

To learn more about Southeastern Community College’s healthcare programs, visit


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