UT to convert old student health center into nursing facility

UT to convert old student health center into nursing training facility

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KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The former Student Health Center on the University of Tennessee campus will take on a new function at the school.

The College of Nursing announced Monday that it is converting the space into a new lab, called the Health and Information Technology Simulation (HITS) Laboratory, which will be designed to simulate a real working environment for nursing students.

The lab is a joint endeavor between the colleges of nursing and engineering and 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. 

"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," said Dean Victoria Niederhauser.

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 of the building 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, two professors 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.

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