The new nursing education facilities construction project in Pearson Hall is underway and on track to finish by next semester.
These facilities, which cost just under $500,000, include a hospital simulation center on the second floor of the building in which students can practice their skills -- including physical assessments, monitoring vitals and delivering babies -- on high-fidelity mannequins, which are designed to blink, breathe, and talk like humans. On the third floor, two five-bed nursing labs are being added, which will allow students to learn basic nursing skills in a hands-on manner.
This fall Miami University's Oxford campus is also admitting it's first cohort of nursing students, which coincides with the completion of the new facilities. Before 2018 nursing students on Oxford's campus were forced to commute to the Hamilton campus to earn their degree.
Miami's Department of Nursing chair, Brooke Flinders, said that these types of facilities have become the standard for nursing education and that students who wish to study nursing seek them out when deciding which school to attend.
"This is the cutting edge," Flinders said. "This is what's expected. Every professional conference I go to, I see that this is what people are doing."
The simulation centers' main advantage is that they allow students to hone their skills in a safe setting before they practice on human beings, Flinders said. A 2017 study of the effects of simulations on nursing students supports her assessment, as simulations were shown to improve the "knowledge, performance, self-satisfaction and confidence" of the students.
"[The simulation center] is a matter of building confidence because you don't want your very first IV stick to be on a human being if you have no idea what you're doing," Flinders said. "It's a safe place to practice and get feedback."
Physical Facilities' director of planning, architecture and engineering, Robert Bell, said that this project was made possible by the general renovations to Pearson Hall that began in fall 2017. While the nursing facilities weren't part of the original renovation plan, Physical Facilities decided to add them about a year ago. The renovations freed up space for the simulation center and labs, which eliminated additional costs associated with constructing new spaces for these facilities.
Bell added that demand for a nursing program on the Oxford campus as well as the high demand for nursing-related jobs in the workforce factored into the decision to go forward with the project.
"This is a new type of space for us, so it's kind of exciting, and it'll really allow the [nursing] program to grow," Bell said.