The nursing lab at Weber State University is undergoing its first major renovation in over 20 years. The renovation began the last week of March and has an anticipated completion date of August 15.
Susan Thornock, chair of the School of Nursing, said the plans to renovate the lab were first talked about five years ago.
The lab will mainly be utilized by students in the nurse practitioner program and students in the respiratory therapy program, although Thornock hopes that the lab will be able to be used by all disciplines in the health sciences programs at WSU at one point in time or another.
Melissa Neville, director of the master’s program at WSU, said she is excited to see the completion of the lab and the benefits it will bring to WSU.
“This is going to be state of the art equipment,” Neville said.
The new lab will occupy a space that was previously divided up between nursing and respiratory therapy students.
Amy Stegen, director of the RN to BSN program at WSU, said the biggest changes to the lab will include the addition of space and the overall layout.
Previous updates to the lab were possible, however the limited amount of space to work with continued to be a problem.
“We would build a new storage area but we’d have to take away from the beds to be able to do that,” Thornock said.
Throughout Thornock’s time at WSU, the lab has seen small updates—mostly involving the technology within the lab—but this is the first time a major renovation will be taking place in her time here.
“This is a complete break down. We will tear down every wall and gut that entire area,” Thornock said. “The area will come together to form an updated clinical and simulation lab.”
Thornock said the lab was not originally intended to be for nurse practitioners. With the addition of the lab at Davis campus in recent years, most of the first and second year clinicals will be sent there, allowing for the nurse practitioner and BSN clinicals to take place in the new lab.
The lab will contain office suites so that the experience of a doctor’s office, including the waiting room and exam room, will be simulated through the lab.
Stegen believes that the new lab will be able to better provide students with the skills needed in the real world, as well as give them a more realistic place to make mistakes and experience situations before being confronted with them in their future jobs.
“When they hit the real world, they’ll feel a lot more confident,” Stegen said.
Inpatient and outpatient simulations will be possible through this new set-up, allowing a more realistic experience for students.
“I see this lab benefiting not just nursing students but benefit(ing) the entire college of health,” Neville said. “Our goal is to collaborate with the other professions. We want this to be a collaborative effort in how we train our nurse practitioners.”
As part of the renovation, the lab will now be able to accommodate live patients for students to work with. The live patients will be actors and will expose students to many different situations that may be encountered later in their careers.
“The benefit to students is they’re going to have real-life scenarios, updated equipment and the ability to interact and work with patients,” Thornock said.
While the update of the nursing lab will provide both students and professors with educational benefits, Thornock said the next goal of the nursing department is to have an actual clinic on campus that would offer services to the community at a greatly discounted cost.
“Our students could work with practitioners that are teaching them in a clinic full of real patients either here or at Davis campus,” Thornock said. “That’s our vision down the road.”