The University of Texas at Arlington has unveiled a new facility that leverages cutting-edge technology to provide state-of-the-art training to social work and nursing students. The 150,000-square-foot building comes at a critical time for the state of Texas, which is currently grappling with a significant shortage of qualified nursing professionals.
According to Jennifer Roye, assistant dean for simulation and technology at the UTA College of Nursing and Health Innovation, the new facility is designed to offer students a hands-on learning experience that closely replicates real-life medical scenarios, creating a sense of urgency and better preparing them for the workforce. Dubbed the ‘Smart Hospital’, the facility boasts real equipment and numerous lifelike medical robots that portray a variety of medical conditions, from heart attacks to childbirth. This enables students to hone their skills in critical areas such as administering IVs, inserting catheters, and defibrillating lifelike mannequins.
For nursing student Ramie Khalaf, the chance to work with the mannequins is an opportunity to boost his confidence levels before embarking on real clinical practice. The Smart Hospital also includes other skills labs that allow students to use virtual reality headsets for exercises like management of multiple staff members in a patient’s hospital room or conducting a mental health assessment.
Additionally, the new facility features an apartment suite designed for learners to practice in-home services, including hospice care or child welfare checks. According to Noelle Fields, an associate professor with UTA’s School of Social Work, such practice sessions will help students gain confidence, manage in-home settings, and ultimately shine in their future work roles.
For UTA, the new Smart Hospital building is a significant milestone that could help alleviate the shortfall of qualified health professionals across Texas. UTA’s College of Nursing and Health Innovation ranks as the number one producer of nurses in the state and one of the largest nursing programs in the United States, and the School of Social Work is the largest program in the state.
Roye remarks that the new facility’s commitment to offering immersive, real-life practice can help produce safer medical professionals, reducing errors, and emphasizing patient safety. As the state’s demand for qualified medical professionals continues to grow, the university’s cutting-edge programs will undoubtedly make a significant contribution to the state’s healthcare system.