"smart" mannequin in a hospital bed
The new Health Sciences building is equipped with smart mannequins.


Healthy Growth

By Cloie Sandlin

After months of progress, the Department of Health Sciences finally has a building to call its own — and it was ready just in time for the fall semester.

Following a two-phase renovation that began in early 2016, the old Community Hospital, located on North 12th Street between Orchard and Walnut avenues, now has students roaming the halls.

Not every department is so lucky as to move into a facility that is already somewhat designed for the programs it delivers. However, it still required a $12.3 million renovation to make necessary updates and to add new classrooms and lab space to accommodate CMU’s growing student enrollment.

The new building is shared by three different programs within the department: nursing, radiation technology and medical laboratory technology, said Health Sciences Director Sandie Nadelson, PhD.

“Not all of our classrooms can be in here because of space reasons,” Nadelson said, noting that the new building contains two traditional classrooms and three classroom/laboratory combination rooms. “We’re all competing, shall we say, or trying to be in the space at one time. But hopefully with our scheduling, we’ll use the space a lot more efficiently.”

In addition to new classrooms and classroom/lab combos, the 51,588-square-foot building houses student study spaces, offices, a conference room space and a new computer lab. The most exciting features, according to Nadelson, include several new health practice labs and a state-of-the-art Simulation Center.

In the practice labs, students practice inserting catheters and IVs and use equipment to transfer a patient safely to and from a hospital bed. The Simulation Center includes four hospital room/simulation labs that provide students with hands-on experience and opportunities to develop critical thinking skills in a real-world environment – except the patients are high-tech mannequins.

“The mannequins are pretty lifelike,” Nadelson said.

Some mannequins can blink or have interchangeable parts. Others produce sounds such as a beating heart, coughing or wheezing. The more sophisticated ones have voice boxes, through which instructors can give their “patients” a voice by speaking into a microphone during scenarios. Others come with pre-recorded comments like, “I don’t feel good,” “My head hurts,” or “I’m going to throw up.”

“It becomes real to the students,” Nadelson said. “I’ve had students cry and get really upset because something didn’t go like they planned or they got frustrated with something. I think they can really connect with the situation much more than if they were just talking about it.”

The new Simulation Center labs have audio/visual capabilities, which help faculty provide students with feedback during or immediately following a scenario.

“There’s a lot of research out there that shows that when a student does a simulation, it’s important to debrief and really talk about it afterwards,” said Nadelson. “Not doing that can reinforce bad habits.”

A new building isn’t all that’s in store for health science majors. As the regional provider of higher education and a growing institution in terms of both bricks and mortar and student enrollment, CMU focuses on providing students with accessibility and flexibility in their studies by offering more online classes, graduate programs and new degrees.

“We want to make sure that people, no matter where they are, can get the education they want,” Nadelson said.

To accommodate nontraditional students and those living in rural areas, the Health Sciences department has added several new programs including a bachelor’s completion program for registered nurses that can be entirely completed online.

“We have some students that live pretty far out there. If the weather is bad, it’s really hard to get to Grand Junction,” Nadelson said. With online classes, “people can start taking classes and get their bachelor’s degree without ever having to walk on campus,” she said.

The department also has a nurse practitioner doctoral degree program and a master’s program in nursing with cognates designed for students who want to be nurse educators or healthcare industry leaders.

New this fall, the administration and leadership track includes traditional nursing classes as well as courses from the business department such as Human Resource Management and Advanced Management Theory.

The department also saw its first graduates to receive an Associate of Applied Science in Surgical Technology, a yearlong program that began last fall. While the program awaits accreditation, which gives graduates an opportunity to become certified, they are still able to begin working in the field.

Nadelson said the surgical tech program meets a specific need in the community. With the new space and equipment Health Sciences majors will be better prepared for their careers of helping individuals locally, regionally and across the country.

Media Contact

David Ludlam, Director of Public Relations


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