TRU’s Nursing and Population Health Building opens for use

Chappell Family Building of Nursing and Population Health is a student-focused, state of the art design

The new Chappell Family Building of Nursing and Population Health is equipped with new technology to provide future essential workers with the best education possible. (Aidan Grether/The Omega)

As construction that began in April 2018 wrapped up recently in early September 2020, TRU opened the newest addition to the campus in time to welcome members of the nursing and other health programs.

The Chappell Family Building of Nursing and Population Health (NPH) cost 37.2 million dollars to complete and represents a dawning of a new era of training medical professionals at TRU.

Of the cost, $8 million was provided by the provincial government, and the remainder by TRU’s capital reserves and fundraising efforts.

“The world is certainly looking at us now,” Dr. Wendy McKenzie, the School of Nursing’s Lab and Simulation Coordinator. “We’re really the first school to have a building quite like this one.”

The 49,000 square foot building contains labs, classrooms, breakout rooms, student-areas, graduate research rooms, and more, and was designed with the student experience in mind.

“We took lots of suggestions from nursing students about what was important to them. Right down to the furniture we chose, the building is student-focused,” McKenzie said.

Some of the student-focused features include plenty of sitting and study space, a common area with a kitchenette, student lockers, loads of outlets, dedicated study space and versatile areas with easy-to-move chairs and tables.

McKenzie believes the building will make intensive health programs more accessible to students.

“Unfortunately due to [COVID-19] some of the student spaces can’t be utilized right now, but we really made an effort to fill every alcove and nook with some tables or a couch. Down the line, students will have ample space and most of their needs met while on campus,” McKenzie said.

The biggest features of the building are the state-of-the-art labs, which were designed to replicate what students will find upon walking into hospitals. The dedicated space enabled the school to triple the number of beds available from 16 to 48, allowing more students to get consistent hands-on experience with the practice mannequins in various scenarios; able to instantly take theory into the application during class time.

“The building has certainly adjusted our approach as it allows for more training by students. What we have here is a meeting of technology and innovation, providing a new landscape for nursing students to learn in,” McKenzie said.

Students studying to be Health Care Assistants have access to new home-care simulation labs, complete with programmable AI mannequins, to simulate what they will do in real home-care situations.

The labs range from low, medium, or high fidelity, and each presents different scenarios and mannequins for varying levels of study. The high-fidelity labs contain only two beds but allow for hands-off learning as instructors can record and monitor the room from behind a one-way mirror, allowing for post-breakdowns of care and procedures.

Some of the mannequins are programmable and contain AI which is used in patient questioning and bedside manner training. Some of the higher-end mannequins have programmable heart-beats and blood pressure, allowing students to get a realistic experience of what patients in the field will be like.

The Chappell Family Building’s opening represents an exciting opportunity for the School of Nursing, tripling its lab space, prioritizing student needs and introducing new technologies for modern education and training.

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