URI, state officials dedicate R.I. Nursing Education Center

Part of South Street Landing, the center houses advanced simulation labs, giving students critical hands-on training

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ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Rhode Island Nursing Education Center.
Dignitaries participate in a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Rhode Island Nursing Education Center. From left are: Josh Miller, Rhode Island senator; Sabina Matos, president of the Providence City Council; Frank Sanchez, president of Rhode Island College; Christina Paxson, president of Brown University; Gina Raimondo, governor of Rhode Island; Jorge Elorza, mayor of Providence; David M. Dooley, president of the University of Rhode Island; Bill Foulkes, chairman of the Council on Postsecondary Education; M. Teresa Paiva Weed, former Rhode Island Senate president and Richard Licht, associate judge of the Rhode Island Superior Court judge and former Rhode Island director of administration. URI photo by Nora Lewis.

PROVIDENCE, R.I., November 30, 2017 – State and University of Rhode Island officials ushered in a new era of higher education and health innovation Wednesday, officially dedicating the South Street Landing development project in Providence, home to the Rhode Island Nursing Education Center.

The center opened in August, welcoming undergraduate and graduate nursing students from URI and Rhode Island College, who share 133,000 square feet of laboratory, classroom and office space at 350 Eddy St. South Street Landing also houses offices for Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School.

Rapid changes in the increasingly complex environment for the health sciences demand advanced clinical education and ever-more rigorous academic requirements for nurses.

“The Nursing Education Center more than meets that demand, positioning the University and the state of Rhode Island at the forefront of the increasingly technological medical world. Nursing and nurse practitioner students leave URI poised to provide the care and leadership that patients and our health care systems require,” said URI President David M. Dooley.

The center is the educational anchor of a regional hub for health care learning, practice and biomedical research sprouting up on land once occupied by Interstate-195. The center — housed in what was an abandoned 19th century power plant for Narragansett Lighting Company, precursor to Narragansett Electric — will help transform Providence’s former Jewelry District into an economic engine centered around technology, education and innovation, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo said Wednesday.

“This is a symbol of what is happening in our state,” Raimondo told the audience. “This is an amazing collaborative effort. A lot of people talk about the great things that can happen when people come together. We’re doing it. Public universities, private universities, private investors, the legislature… We said we the people of Rhode Island are going to come together and move this state forward. Rhode Island is unmistakably on the move.”

“Students come to URI College of Nursing expecting access to the most advanced, comprehensive educational experience available,” said Barbara Wolfe, dean of the URI College of Nursing. “That’s exactly what the Nursing Education Center helps us provide. Students get access to the most technologically advanced simulation and training systems, and comprehensive, hands-on experience that gives them a real advantage as they enter the health care arena.”

URI’s graduate nursing programs, from its master’s degree offering — which U.S. News & World Report ranks in the nation’s top 100 — to doctor of nurse practitioner and Ph.D. degree tracks, are entirely housed at the center. The nursing professionals enrolled in these programs learn from faculty who practice at the top of their fields and benefit from collaborative opportunities available at nearby leading health care institutions.

And the skills gained in the simulation laboratories are invaluable in preparing undergraduates for a career in nursing, said Rosario Mariano, a URI nursing student participating in her maternity rotation. The sim labs, designed to mimic an actual hospital setting, combine sophisticated mannequins that respond to changing conditions as well as actors who give students the chance to experience critical care conditions in a controlled environment. The students’ performance is filmed and critiqued later during debriefing.

“After, we go into the debriefing room to watch the video and learn what we did well and what we did not so well, so when we’re in that situation in a real hospital, we’ll know exactly what to do,” Mariano said.

The sim labs allow students to learn without putting patients at risk. “If you’re going to make a mistake, it’s better to do it in this environment so you can learn from it,” Wolfe said.