Sept. 23, 2016
BLOOMINGTON, Ill.— Extensive renovations of the first floor and garden level of Illinois Wesleyan University’s Stevenson Hall accomplished a major goal: align the School of Nursing (SON)’s physical spaces with the growing importance of laboratory and simulation learning in nursing education.
Completed over the summer, the $2 million renovation has transformed the garden level of century-old Stevenson Hall into health care settings that look just like those you’d find in a major medical center or a primary care setting. Walking through the door of the new Nursing Interventions Laboratory, a nurses’ station is centrally located. Nearby, lifelike manikins lay in one of the five distinct patient care bays. Each bed has a head wall including suction, air, power and a note-taking desk. It looks just like a hospital, and that’s the point.
“It’s realistic and simulates a real hospital,” said Keith Carter ’17, a nursing major from Flossmoor, Ill.
Stevenson Hall’s entire garden level is now devoted to assessment, intervention and simulation learning and practice skills. The garden level has been named the Jarvis Center for Nursing Excellence, honoring Professor of Nursing Carolyn Jarvis, Ph.D., APN, CNP, whose lead gift provided substantial funding for the renovations.
On the west end of the garden level, the Jarvis Health Assessment Lab contains six examination tables mimicking a primary care setting. The lab also honors Jarvis, an internationally recognized authority in health assessment and the author of North America’s most widely used health assessment textbook Physical Examination and Health Assessment, now in its seventh edition.
In the new Simulation Center on the garden level, students are challenged to solve simulated patient events. Faculty and a simulation expert develop and program high-fidelity manikins to respond in lifelike fashion to various medical scenarios. The simulation expert observes student responses and decision making from a control booth equipped with new video screens wired to new cameras installed over patient beds.
A new Pediatric Simulation Lab houses both pediatric and newborn simulation manikins. “Some nursing schools have eliminated specialized clinicals such as pediatrics,” said SON Director Vickie Folse, Ph.D., APN, PMHCNS-BC, LCPC. “We have not, and we believe combining direct patient care opportunities with high fidelity simulations is very important to student learning.”
Another renovated area on the garden level is a Home Healthcare Room. With both living and sleeping areas, this environment simulates an apartment where students can practice assessment, ambulatory and other skills in a non-hospital environment, according to Folse, who is also the Caroline F. Rupert Endowed Chair of Nursing.
The addition of a Medication Room gives students experience in the safe handling and dispensing of medications. The room contains a Pyxis Medstation automated medication dispensing system. Hayley Gastman’17 noted the device looks exactly like the dispensing system she uses during her clinical experiences, which begin the sophomore year in IWU’s nursing curriculum.
Renovations of the garden level included the addition of a Student Lounge and Study Area. Folse noted Illinois Wesleyan nursing majors helped to design all the renovated spaces, and students wanted a place where they could gather between classes to mingle or to study. The area helps students from different class years get to know each other more easily, according to Kristen Dace ’17 of Freeport, Ill.
First-floor renovations included creating larger classroom spaces. Three of the four classrooms on the first floor can now seat 48 students, allowing all the core nursing courses to be held in Stevenson Hall.
“We will maintain our entering classes at 48 students,” Folse said. “We feel this is an ideal number for meaningful interaction between faculty, staff and students. These relationships are what make us unique from other schools of nursing.” The number of first-year nursing students has doubled since 2009. That growth also drove the need for the renovations, Folse said.
About 350 donors contributed to the fundraising campaign. Donors included all SON faculty and staff; community partners such as OSF, Advocate Health Care, and the Carle Health System; alumni; current students and their parents; and even students who are now young alumni. During a 36-hour giving drive in February, students, including seniors who would graduate in May, made fundraising phone calls and donated funds.
“Students who would never have instruction in the renovated space donated to that fund drive,” Folse said. “I think that says something about the enthusiasm we all had for this project. We built it together.”
The early clinical experiences, study abroad opportunities, internship and collaborative research opportunities for students in the School of Nursing all contribute to graduates’ 100 percent job placement rates. Students enter the SON as first-year students with a major in nursing and do not have to reapply to enter the nursing sequence, which begins in the sophomore year. Graduates of the School of Nursing include chief operating officers of major healthcare institutions and community healthcare clinics, nursing professors, researchers, nurse midwives, nurse anesthetists and nurse practitioners.