Nursing and health-care assistant students attending Thompson Rivers University (TRU) will soon get their education in a new state-of-art building using modern technology and equipment to prepare them to deliver health care that British Columbians count on.
“Helping people get the skills they need to fill nursing jobs is critical to public health care,” said Premier John Horgan. “This new nursing building will give students more opportunities for hands-on learning, so they can finish their education and walk on to the job, ready to help people.”
Premier Horgan and Advanced Education, Skills and Training Minister Melanie Mark were joined by students, staff and faculty to celebrate the ground breaking of the new Nursing and Population Health Building.
“The new facility will prepare our next generation of health-care professionals,” said Mark. “We know that nurses and health-care assistants are in demand professions. The new building will help meet demand, while benefiting students, faculty and staff in a vibrant learning environment, that will prepare them for ‘real life’ health-care delivery.”
The university’s School of Nursing program, which offers a bachelor of science in nursing, master of nursing, and health-care assistant certificate, currently operates out of the Ken Lepin Building, a space it shares with the faculty of science. With all programs experiencing growth, the space no longer meets the needs of nursing education.
In addition to providing for new technology and equipment, the Nursing and Population Health Building will add space for classrooms, labs, interdisciplinary health clinics, home-care space, and breakout rooms, affording the opportunity for collaborative learning. The new building will also allow for additional student seats in the future.
“We are in a fortunate position to be building for the future and designing a purpose-built facility that will include high-fidelity simulation labs to reflect real-world health-care settings. This facility will ensure TRU continues to be a leader in providing high-quality, relevant and innovative curriculum for our students,” said Alan Shaver, president and vice-chancellor at TRU.
The 4,550 square-metre (49,000 square feet) building will house nursing and allied health programs, including the bachelor of science in nursing, health-care assistant and master of nursing and other programs as they are developed by TRU and approved by the Province. It will also provide teaching space for interdisciplinary teams, including students in respiratory therapy, social work and medical residency.
Nurses and health-care assistants are in-demand health occupations. There are just over 5,000 job openings for registered nurses, practical nurses and health-care assistants in the Thompson-Okanagan forecasted by 2027. Provincewide the number of job openings is more than 46,000.
“The Nursing and Population Health Building, with its expansion in simulation lab space and enhanced teaching and learning environment, is vital to the success of our students as they enter diverse health-care settings upon graduation,” said Donna Murnaghan, dean of TRU’s school of nursing, noting the facility will also be a place where nursing and health-related research will be conducted.
“As a nursing student, it's gratifying to see this investment which gives us a state-of-the art facility where we can learn and practice together. It shows the value placed on nursing and health care,” said Gabby Fisher, a third-year nursing student at TRU.
The primary project contractors are:
- Colliers Project Leaders – the overall project manager on behalf of TRU and responsible for leading the prime consultant and construction management teams, tracking timelines, budgets, co-ordinating feedback and providing reports on project status.
- Stantec Architecture – the prime consultant responsible for all aspects of the building’s design, from the foundation to the landscaping.
- PCL Constructors Westcoast Inc. – the construction manager and responsible for all construction activity.
Construction is expected to begin later this month with completion forecasted for late 2019, and space ready for classes in January 2020. The project is expected to create 102 jobs in construction and 74 jobs in supplier industries.
The cost of the building is estimated at $37.2 million, with $8 million from the Province of British Columbia and the remainder from TRU through university reserves and fundraising.
Budget 2018 includes a direct government investment of $1.2 billion in capital for the post-secondary sector. This includes new health buildings at Thompson Rivers University, Camosun College, Vancouver Island University, BC Institute of Technology and Okanagan College.