College of Nursing renovates, introduces new skills lab


Jacob Boyko, News Editor (He/Him)

Students in the College of Nursing have begun the semester in an all-new space following a recent renovation on the third floor of Wagner Hall.

Over the past several months, a wall separating a classroom and a small lab area has been demolished and the space united for an expansive, hospital-style skills lab and attached debriefing room for reflective analysis. The new space can accommodate more lab groups and learning equipment, creating an overall more engaging experience for future nurses. 

“We basically have doubled our space,” Karin Emery, assistant dean for the College of Nursing, said. “Our old area used to be half lab and half classroom.”

The College of Nursing lost classroom space on the third floor with the renovation, but a classroom on the first floor of Wagner Hall is being used in its place. 

The updated skills lab replicates the environment of a hospital and can now accommodate nine beds for mannequin patients—up from six beds prior. Nursing students in the lab courses practice procedures like checking for pulses, inserting an IV or a catheter, identifying respiratory illnesses and even step-by-step interactions with patients. 

According to Emery, the responses to the new space have been positive from everyone who sees it, including faculty, College of Nursing alumni, families and students. 

“This is awesome. We are actually jealous of the Semester 1 nursing students because they’ll get to use this lab for all of their instruction … but we’re thrilled to have it as we finish our degree coursework this year,” a group of Semester 4 students said during their lab. 

Construction began at the end of April 2021 and was completed under a very tight timeline, according to Project Architect Jonathen Meendering. 

“Due to material supply constraints, a lot of the work was condensed into a few weeks at the end of the project,” Meendering said. “There are a few items that remain to be completed which include furnishings, countertops, and classroom technology.”

The remaining items are expected to be completed before the start of the spring semester in January 2022. 

The overall cost of the project was approximately $280,000. This figure includes upgrades to finishes, plumbing fixtures, lighting, classroom technology, storage, equipment, and furnishings. 

“The project was made possible by private donations from more than 30 individuals,” Al Bahe, development director for the College of Nursing, said.

Some of the donations were made during the 2020 and 2021 One Day for STATE campaigns by donors who selected the project to receive their gifts. 

“We are pleased that many of our nursing alumni and friends recognize the value of interactive learning and the opportunity for students to learn and practice these important clinical skills in a safe and modern environment … ” Bahe said. 

The project was divided into two phases. The completion of the skills lab wraps up phase 1. The first phase, according to Meendering, was initially set to focus on creating an active skills classroom just off the new lab, but leadership in the College of Nursing decided to prioritize the skills lab. 

“Through design development discussions with the nursing faculty and administrators, it was determined that the skills lab would need more space than originally planned,” Meendering said. 

The project was revised to allow for more space in the skills lab and the classroom renovation was set to become phase 2. Currently, there is no set date on when phase 2 will begin, but it remains a priority for the college, according to Meendering.