VUSN Makes $23.6M Investment in Technology, Training
A $23.6 million investment has made Vanderbilt University School of Nursing one of the most innovative and high-tech nursing programs in the U.S.
The 18-month expansion project, which broke ground in June 2017, includes a state-of-the-art simulation lab, technologically advanced classrooms and student services offices. The high-tech building also features wellness components designed to support well-being in health and comfort for the program's 852 graduate nursing students.
Fulfilling a Vision
"This has been a part of our vision for a number of years now," said VUSN's Senior Associate Dean for Informatics Betsy Weiner, PhD, RN-BC. "We've always been such a strong distance learning program but needed better multimedia production facilities and better ways to integrate interactive technology that allows students to work together or apart."
The Wachtmeister Interactive Classroom is equipped with five, high-definition, interactive displays that allow students to huddle for collaborative work, show content to small groups on individual displays from their own laptops or smart devices, and to share the results of their work on multiple displays with the entire classroom. Meanwhile, VUSN's new virtual classroom is equipped with green, black and white screens, as well as sound abatement and professional lighting, that can be configured to meet most production needs, whether for a panel presentation or to help students defend dissertations and doctoral projects in a live environment from anywhere in the world.
"What makes Vanderbilt different from any other nursing program is our comprehensive support team, from academic instructional designers to graphic designers and programmers," Weiner said. "Schools don't generally have that, but we knew that if we were going to offer distance learning we needed to do it right."
Formerly housed in a 1,290-square-foot space, the new Simulation and Skills Lab is nearly three times as large and fills the new building's third floor. It contains advanced equipment and 13 patient care bays with high-fidelity mannequins that can be used for training for emergency, obstetrics, pediatric, bedside, practitioner office or neonatal nursery settings. The space looks like any hospital floor, complete with headwalls, hospital beds, simulated gasses and computer monitors. Additional equipment can be rolled in from the storage room as required by the specific simulation.
The lab also utilizes a product from B-Line Medical®, called SimCapture, which seamlessly captures audio and high-quality video during the training encounter, streams live to faculty and students watching the simulation in real time, and records it for playback during the debrief and assessment sessions. Students being recorded during their simulation experience then watch their experiences post-simulation.
As part of the School of Nursing's focus on well-being, the building incorporates natural lighting, improved air quality, a rooftop green space and open staircases with wide landings. It was constructed to meet LEED Gold certification and rigorous WELL Building Standard requirements that consider a structure's impact on its occupants in the areas of air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind. The university will apply for WELL Silver certification and anticipates that it will be Nashville's first building designed from the ground-up to be WELL-certified.
So what's next for the high-tech program? Weiner said leaders are now focusing on faculty development and training to maximize VUSN's world-class capabilities. Students will be able to participate more interactively and will be asked to provide feedback on the use of technology. "Our philosophy is that these students are our clients, and if they don't feel comfortable with technology, they won't be good distance learners," Weiner said. "This is a terrific investment in our school and students."