Nursing Learning Resource and Simulation Center

Gov. Mike Parson directed $1.5 million to the UMSL College of Nursing to assist with the $7 million renovation and expansion of the Nursing Learning Resource and Simulation Center. Work on Phase 1 of the project in LeGras Hall is expected to be completed in late summer. (Photo by August Jennewein)

The continued renovation and expansion of the Nursing Learning Resource and Simulation Center at the University of Missouri–St. Louis is getting a boost in funding from the state of Missouri.

Governor Mike Parson signed the FY22 state operating budget bills on Wednesday evening and directed $1.5 million to the UMSL College of Nursing to assist with the $7 million project.

The Missouri Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development had included the Nursing Learning Resource and Simulation Center among 17 projects totaling $21.8 million that it recommended for funding through the MoExcels Workforce Initiative. MoExcels funding facilitates development and expansion of employer-driven education and training programs and initiatives to substantially increase educational attainment.

“We are grateful to Governor Parson and our elected officials as well as the people of Missouri for supporting construction of our Nursing Learning Resource and Simulation Center,” Chancellor Kristin Sobolik said. “We have seen over the past year and a half how important it is to have skilled nurses working to protect the health and well-being of our region and our state. We are committed to doing our part to ensure that communities across Missouri have enough educated and well-trained nurses to meet their needs, and the renovated and expanded center will allow us to do just that.”

Work is ongoing on Phase 1 of the project in LeGras Hall. It began in November and is expected to be completed this summer. The first phase includes a 5,000-square foot expansion of the simulation labs and a renovation of the existing skills lab.

The overall project, designed by the St. Louis firm Archimages, will create a 21,000-square-foot immersive learning center that provides state-of-the-art space, equipment and technology to train the next generation of nurses.

The new facility will increase the number of simulation rooms from five to eleven, allowing the College of Nursing to grow the number of pre-licensure BSN students it graduates by 20 percent annually. That means more nurses nationally and in the St. Louis region, where area hospitals have been facing a 10.4 percent nursing vacancy rate.

UMSL raised $1.5 million toward the first phase with support from donors such as Mercy Hospital St. LouisEnterprise Holdings Foundation, the Hearst Foundations, Mary E. Walker, Nancy and Don Ross, and Terry and Stan Freerks. The university is continuing to raise funds for the remainder of the project.

Nursing simulation is an increasingly essential component of nursing education and offers an effective and efficient use of the limited faculty and clinical placement resources in the nursing field.

It’s more than a substitute for in-person clinical experiences because simulation broadens student competencies as they perform duties that only licensed RNs can perform in the real world and experience high-risk situations infrequent in daily practice.

The simulation labs proved especially critical during the pandemic with the college’s clinical partners often overburdened and implementing restrictions that prevented nursing students from engaging in traditional clinical experiences.

“Simulation education is essential to preparing the best nurses for Missouri and beyond,” College of Nursing Interim Dean Roxanne Vandermause said. “Simulation complements clinical practice, and together they are the gold standard for nursing education. The new simulation center will be critical in allowing us to prepare students for a variety of settings and scenarios that they might not otherwise encounter during their clinical training.”

UMSL nursing graduates are equipped with the skills, knowledge and compassion needed to provide the highest levels of health care. The College of Nursing educates more than 1,000 nursing students each year in its bachelor’s and doctoral ­– PhD and DNP – programs.

The nursing graduate programs ranked in the top 80 in the 2021 U.S. News and World Report rankings. The RN to BSN program is ranked No. 15 on the Best Value College rankings, and the DNP program ranked as the top online program in Missouri and among the top 25 percent of online programs nationally.

Placement rates for graduates consistently range between 95 to 100 percent, and the first-time success rate on the NCLEX-RN exam in calendar year 2019 was 87.4 percent.

Steve Walentik

Steve Walentik