By Chris McGuinness
Killeen Daily Herald
BELTON — Nursing students dressed in white and purple uniforms welcomed guests Friday at the ceremonial groundbreaking of the new Isabelle Rutherford Meyer Nursing Education Center at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.
Students and college officials took up shovels and dug into the dirt on the site where the 46,000-square-foot, three story, $20 million building will stand once construction is complete in 2013.
“This won’t just be another nice facility,” said Randy O’Rear, the university’s president. “This will be one of the finest nursing education centers in the country.”
The new facility will house the school’s popular nursing program, which has a few hundred students. It will offer state-of-the art technology, with much of the building’s second floor dedicated to simulated training.
Sharon Souter, dean of the Scott & White College of Nursing, said the center will include a simulated hospital with its own emergency, maternity and ICU wards as well as computer-programed mannequins for student practice. The center also will be equipped with technology that allows instructors to record the simulations and review them with students later.
“We can see how the students react to different scenarios they might encounter,” said Souter. “They can make mistakes on campus so they don’t make them in a real-world situation.”
The center will feature teaching laboratories, study-rooms and even a student lounge.
“I’m excited for the simulated clinical work,” said Kara Cornelio, a first-year nursing student. “I think it will really be valuable.”
Senior nursing student Andrew Kester addressed the audience at the groundbreaking and lauded the center’s student-focused attributes. “It was planned with students in mind,” he said.
O’Rear hoped the center would not only meet the needs of the university’s nursing students but also the growing need for nurses in the state.
“(The state) will need double the number of nurses graduating out of Texas colleges in the next eight years to meet the demand,” said O’Rear.
The nursing center is just one facility the university plans to build as part of its campus master project in the next five to seven years. In February, the university’s board approved the $100 million plan, which calls for the construction of four other facilities, including a visual arts center, a performing arts center, a new student union building and a 8,000- to 10,000-seat football stadium. Construction on the visual arts center started in September.