College of Nursing to Build Simulated Health Care Facility

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Many learn by doing. This is especially true for nursing students. UT is renovating an existing building to improve simulated instruction and research for the College of Nursing.

The Health and Information Technology Simulation (HITS) Laboratory will be housed in the former Student Health Center at 1818 Andy Holt Way. A joint endeavor of the colleges of nursing and engineering, the HITS lab will feature simulated learning experiences and opportunities to explore research scenarios.

The building will add more than 7,000 square feet to the nursing college’s current space and open the door to use more cutting-edge technology such as human simulation manikins.

“Gaining first-hand knowledge of the impact that health technology has on improving patient care, quality, and safety is critical for nursing students,” said Dean Victoria Niederhauser. “Research has shown that when students engage in simulated scenarios in a safe learning environment, they are better prepared to enter into the work force upon graduation.”

The $1.5 million project involves renovating the three-story building; the HITS Lab will take two floors and one floor will house a rare plant herbarium for the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in the College of Arts and Sciences.

The second floor will include four patient exam rooms; a pediatric inpatient room; an operating room; a room that functions as an intensive care unit, medical surgical room, and birthing room; faculty offices; storage space; and lockers. It will also contain a debriefing room with an observation and control laboratory where students and professors can observe how other students are handling simulated scenarios live. The experiences can be taped so that students can review how they responded to situations.

The basement level will contain an apartment with a bedroom, living room, and dining room for simulated learning and collaborative nursing and engineering research projects to tackle health care challenges. For example, HITS co-directors Tami Wyatt, associate professor of nursing, and Xueping Li, associate professor of engineering, plan to conduct a study using new smart-home technologies to assist with independent living for elderly people. These technologies will allow older adults to live safely in their own homes.

Construction is slated to begin this fall and be completed in January.

Student Health Services moved from its former Andy Holt Avenue building last December. The new Student Health Building, on the corner of Pat Head Summitt Street and Andy Holt Avenue, opened to students in January 2012.

The College of Nursing’s current building is also converting its learning laboratory into a simulated hospital ward so students can practice health assessments. Their original lab will double the capacity of beds and create a better learning environment for undergraduate and graduate nursing students.

The learning lab work is slated to begin in December and to be competed in March 2013.

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C O N T A C T :

Whitney Heins (865-974-5460, wheins@utk.edu)

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