Construction plans are being finalized for a new health science center at Truckee Meadows Community College. Reno Public Radio's Michelle Bliss reports the facility at TMCC's Redfield campus in south Reno will lay the foundation for future expansion to the school's nursing program.
The $10 million project includes renovating an existing building along with constructing a new facility that will house a high-tech nursing simulation lab resembling real-world conditions.
"It's kind of going to be like a little floor room hospital, if you will," says TMCC's Nursing Director Jody Covert, "where we might have different scenarios set up in each one, so maybe a student that comes in for a simulation might not just have one; they might have two. They might take care of a patient with high blood pressure and then they might go and take care of a pediatric patient."
Covert says her program is currently housed on two different campuses, forcing professors to schlep back and forth, and limiting student interaction and support. The new facility will unite everyone, creating more opportunities for tutoring and hands-on learning in a controlled environment.
"It allows a student to practice skills on a simulation mannequin in a safe environment where if something does go wrong, they can fix it," Covert explains.
Covert says, ultimately, TMCC's goal is to expand the nursing program to prepare for the region's increasing healthcare needs. John Packham is director of health policy research for the University of Nevada School of Medicine. He says the state endured a nursing shortage before the recession when Nevada's economy and population were booming, and he expects the same problem will arise again soon.
"I think we will be revisiting a severe nursing shortage over the next decade," he explains, "as the economy improves, as demand for healthcare increases, and as the existing or current nursing workforce approaches retirement."
TMCC's new health science center is slated to open next fall.