A New Home for Nursing Education

KU School of Nursing students and faculty are RAVING about KU Medical Center’s new Health Education Building.

Photo of the new Health Education Building

IT HAS BEEN JUST OVER A YEAR since the University of Kansas Medical Center’s state-of-the-art Health Education Building opened its doors. The 170,000 square-foot, $82 million structure on the Kansas City, Kansas campus continues to draw rave reviews from students, faculty and staff.

From its open and inviting interprofessional learning spaces and world-class simulation facilities to the specially commissioned works by local artists located throughout the structure, the building has been a welcome addition to the heart of the KU Medical Center campus.

The Health Education Building serves as the primary educational facility for all three schools on campus: health professions, medicine and nursing. And the bridge that connects the building to the south campus has become a gathering place for students from all three schools to meet and mix, while sharing the perspectives each discipline brings to the table.

We talked to students and faculty in the KU School of Nursing about how the facility has brought a wealth of opportunities for growth, interprofessional education and interconnectedness working alongside their health care colleagues from the other schools.

Our Panel

photo of a Jeff JavierJeff Javier, Student

photo of a Rebecca CatesRebecca Cates, Student

photo of a Alyson LuckenbachAlyson Luckenbach, MSN, RN, PCCN, Program Director BSN

photo of a Breah R. Chambers

Breah R. Chambers, DNP, APRN, FNP-C, Clinical Assistant Professor and Associate Director for Procedural Training Zamierowski Institute for Experiential Learning

photo of a Elizabeth YoungElizabeth Young, MSN, RN, CNE, Clinical Assistant Professor

What are some of your favorite things about the Health Education Building?

Jeff Javier: My favorite part about the Health Education Building would be the resources that are available for us to use. The building has so many study spaces for both independent study or group study. I also appreciate how the building has simulation technology that provides the most accurate immersion experience.

Rebecca Cates: The classrooms are so spacious. There are so many individual and small group study spaces. The simulation rooms better represent the appearance and feeling of actual clinical settings. And the bridge is a great place to relax and/or study with friends.

Breah Chambers: I love seeing students from all of the programs in one area. Since faculty from the School of Medicine and School of Nursing have been working together to build a simulation curriculum, and I have taught many of the sessions, I recognize a lot of the medical students and they know who I am. Working with other programs’ faculty on other projects has also built my network of colleagues. Collegial ‘hellos’ echo through the halls. It’s nice to recognize so many faces.

Elizabeth Young: All of the new technology is amazing in the classroom. We can use air media and use catch boxes for discussions. It is also nice to have windows and plenty of space unlike our classrooms in the basement in the School of Nursing.

Alyson Luckenbach: I like that the building fosters an environment of collaboration among students from different health professions. I also appreciate that the students have a place to be that is comfortable and accommodating to their needs.

What have been the biggest changes have you seen since the Health Education Building has become the primary hub for educating School of Nursing students?

JJ: Our nursing lectures have become more interactive and engaging. When we were in our old classroom in the basement of the School of Nursing, our room was small and oddly shaped which didn’t allow us to fully take advantage of our shared thinking. In our new classroom, we have a larger space that allows us to spread out and do activities. We have catch-box microphones that allow our voices to be heard. And monitors/projectors that allow us to see presentations without difficulty.

RC: There is a lot of space in the classroom to accommodate all nursing students, where last year we were cramped for space. The increased size also makes it easier for students to see course materials on the screens placed throughout the room. The instructors have been able to try new things in the classroom because of the increased classroom size and improved media.

How does the Health Education Building help to promote interprofessional education at KU Medical Center?

JJ: There are so many opportunities offered throughout the building that allow for collaboration between students from different schools. I appreciate how students from different schools must work together as an interprofessional team as part of a simulation. It helps us transition to the real world where interprofessional practice is a necessity.

RC: The building belongs to everyone. Since we’re all studying in the same place rather than in different buildings, IPE probably occurs more easily because no one feels like they’re intruding on another profession’s “territory.”

BC: I love seeing nursing and medical students recognize each other in the hallway now. I’m hoping there will be some interprofessional study groups and possibly student organizations and societies that may come from simply putting students in the same spaces.

AL: Students used to go to classes in separate buildings and not even see each other, let alone know anyone personally from the other programs. With the Health Education Building, students are now able to meet and see each other during study breaks or lunch time, and they also have new programming that includes interprofessional simulation throughout their curriculum. It would not have been possible without the resources and spaces made available in the building.

EY: I love walking across the bridge and seeing students and faculty of various health professions in one location. It has brought all of us together, all working together in this amazing simulation space which leads to better collaborative learning.

How has the Health Education Building changed the way classes are taught or the curriculum adapted?

BC: The classrooms on the ground floor of the Health Education Building are spacious and technology savvy. It’s great to have ITV to bring our School of Nursing students in Salina into the classroom with us. We were already providing a concept-based, active learning curriculum in the School of Nursing, but the larger space has allowed students to spread out more to work on projects in their teams. It has also allowed for most students to plug in laptops which has been tremendously helpful.

AL: We have changed quite a bit of our curriculum in simulation because of all the new resources available in the Health Education Building. We have also changed our classroom activities to include more technology and added ITV to include the nursing students at our new campus in Salina.

How have you benefited personally from the move to the Health Education Building?

JJ: I felt more comfortable when we did simulations because of how realistic they are. I also got more out of our lectures because they are maximized and more efficient with the available technology offered to us in the classrooms.

RC: I don’t feel as claustrophobic in our classroom in the new building as I did in our classroom in the School of Nursing building. I can get up out of my chair without having to ask the people on either side of me and behind me to get up and move. I also stayed on campus to study more than last year because of the great learning and social environment in the Health Education Building.

BC: With my involvement in interprofessional simulation education, I have met a lot of faculty from other professions I never would have met before. The great thing about the Health Education Building is that I continue to run into them even when the event is over! It helps me remember my network outside of the School of Nursing, and sometimes we stop and talk about other project ideas. Recognizing students from other professions and knowing they recognize me is also meaningful. I would hope they feel they could come to me with questions or concerns just like they might go to their own faculty.

AL: I have benefited personally by having a safer, more direct pathway to walk to and from my parking lot. This may seem minor, but is important to many people who walk across campus over busy streets to get to their offices.

What is something you think someone new to campus would be surprised to find in the Health Education Building?

JJ: I think someone new to campus would be surprised to find how cool the second floor is. It has eating areas, a break room, a lot of study rooms with dry erase walls, TVs and much more.

RC: The meaningful artwork all over the building is really amazing.

EY: I love all of the little study spaces tucked away and amazing views! I’m always discovering cool new spaces.

AL: I think it is a nice surprise to see such beautiful artwork that is well thought out and related to the health professions. It just adds to the atmosphere.