By Doc Anderson
The Northeast Texas Community Colleges health sciences programs are receiving a long-awaited upgrade in the form of a new, fully-functional medical simulation lab.
The lab will allow students and potentially local healthcare professionals, to train or recertify using state-of-the-art simulation technology. The former physical fitness center, located on the north side of the main NTCC campus, is being completely renovated to house the new, state-of-the-art simulation lab.
Dr Ron Clinton, NTCC president, said the new lab will aid students and help facilitate relationships with local healthcare facilities.
“Not only are we excited about the significantly expanded opportunities this new lab will provide our own NTCC health sciences program,” Clinton said. “But also for future partnerships and training opportunities it will afford to better support our Northeast Texas regional care providers.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the state of Texas approved up to 50% of clinical training for nurses to be completed using simulation health technology. NTCC Associate Vice President for Instruction Anna Ingram said providing a place for simulated nursing is a top priority.
“The state has approved more simulation for nursing, so it’s important that we have a space where they can actually do that,” Ingram said. “We’re in a rural area that is very difficult to secure clinical sites for those nurses.”
The new sim lab will replicate a hospital or physician’s office complete with hospital beds, a waiting room, a virtual reality training space and a place for emergency medical services to dock and offload an ambulance. The need for an updated sim lab has been a priority of the NTCC administration for some time. As funding and a space became available, they jumped at the opportunity to move forward with the renovations of the former physical fitness center.
Jeff Chambers, NTCC vice president for Administrative Services, said the total budget of the construction is $1 million and $15 thousand dollars, which includes the architectural drawings and engineering costs. The funding for the project includes $290,065 from Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds, $260,000 from Title V funds, $39,500 from remaining 2016 construction bond funds and $425,435 from institutional funds. The general contractor for the construction of the sim lab is Stansell construction. Chambers said the renovation project is on budget and on time. He said the construction should be completed by the start of the fall 2023 semester.
Dr Kevin Rose, senior vice president of Student Success, said the new lab will complement NTCC’s existing sim lab and help advance the college’s use of simulation curriculum.
“With the growth of new technology and accrediting agencies moving forward toward more simulation hours being allowed as part of the curriculum, the lab will be one more tool we can use to train our students,” Rose said.