U.Va. School of Nursing Awarded $1 Million Matching Grant for Simulation Lab

November 30, 2006
Nov. 30, 2006 -- The Mary Morton Parsons Foundation has just awarded a $1 million matching grant to the University of Virginia School of Nursing toward the expansion and renovation of the School’s Clinical Simulation Learning Center.

The expansion of the Center is part of the overall growth of the nursing school that includes construction of a sister building, the Claude Moore Nursing Education Building, followed by the extensive renovation of the existing McLeod Hall, across the street from the new building.  Construction has already begun for the new building with completion expected in spring 2008.  Driven by the critical nationwide nursing shortage, projected to worsen over the next few years, the School expects to increase enrollment capacity by 25% with the new space and additional faculty.

According to Assistant Professor Reba Moyer Childress, MSN, FNP, APRN-BC, and Director of the Clinical Simulation Learning Center, the plan is to increase space for the facility to occupy the entire third floor of McLeod Hall, a 34% increase in square footage.  The newly configured Center will consist of existing procedural and intensive care simulation labs, a second physical assessment laboratory, and new operating room, virtual reality suite and simulation testing and research unit.

Childress, a national leader in simulation education, is one of eight nursing education researchers in a nationwide simulation study sponsored by the National League for Nursing and Laerdal Corporation.  The UVA School of Nursing recently hosted the first-ever statewide simulation users group conference drawing nearly 100 participants from throughout the Commonwealth for a two-day workshop.

Jeanette Lancaster, PhD, RN, FAAN, Sadie Heath Cabaniss Professor and Dean of the School of Nursing, observed that, “Nursing education is at a transformative stage in the history of the profession: health care is changing dramatically, there is both a nursing and a faculty shortage, and huge numbers of well qualified applicants are being turned away from schools of nursing.  We must educate in radically different ways.”  Dr. Lancaster brings a national perspective to nursing education as President of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN).

Dr. Lancaster sees simulation as “…an absolutely ideal way to teach students clinical decision making, problem solving, priority setting and skill development before they ever take care of a patient.  Simulation gives learners confidence when they master complex skills and nursing interventions in the security of the laboratory.  Taking care of those first patients can be done with greater competence and assurance that the student truly knows what he/she is doing.  The University of Virginia School of Nursing is and will continue to be a leader in developing new, creative and cutting edge tools to help our students learn.”

The grant is among the larger awards made by the Mary Morton Parsons Foundation, based in Richmond, Virginia.  The Foundation primarily supports capital projects in the areas of arts and culture, civic and community needs, education, historical preservation, and social services and welfare.

The University of Virginia School of Nursing is among the top nursing schools in the United States; three of its graduate programs are ranked in the U.S. News & World Report’s Top Ten.  The School ranks first in the country for National Institutes of Health National Research Service Award fellowships and 22nd in overall research funding. Approximately 550 students are enrolled in its undergraduate baccalaureate, master’s degree, post master’s, and doctoral programs.