Newswise — The future of our health and the health of the communities we live in relies, in many ways, on students in the health sciences. The education and experiences that future doctors, dentists, pharmacists, nurses, social workers and public health experts receive will to a large degree shape how those professionals work and work together when solving problems affecting our health.
And while the University of Washington’s highly ranked health sciences schools have long focused on interdisciplinary education and training students to be part of seamlessly integrated teams, the space where much of that training takes place on UW’s Seattle campus has been in need of a serious upgrade.
That upgrade is now “officially” underway as deans of the UW Health Sciences schools — Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Public Health and Social Work — and Washington State legislators celebrated construction of the Health Sciences Education Building on the UW’s Seattle campus with a small, physically distanced groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday, Aug. 27.
“This new facility will enable our students across the full range of health sciences to work in a setting that better mirrors the way they’ll be engaging in patient care as professionals,” said UW President Ana Mari Cauce. “This will result in better care for the patients they serve, because we’ve seen the benefits that come from coordinating various health disciplines, rather than keeping them siloed.”
The Health Sciences Education Building will be where students learn integrated patient care in an integrated training facility. The 100,000 square-foot, four-story, $100 million, fully modern facility received $70 million from the Washington state Legislature. The University is seeking an additional $30 million in private support from community members through naming opportunities and donations to complete funding for the building.
“I am proud to have worked with my legislative colleagues to support this project with nearly $70 million in state capital funds. Ensuring that UW health sciences students have access to state-of-the-art interdisciplinary training facilities is critical to our state’s health care workforce pipeline,” said Sen. David Frockt (D-46th District).
The new building is designed around flexible spaces that allow for 21st-century teaching techniques, including high-tech learning facilities used for computer simulation, mock treatment labs and an ultra-modern Anatomy Lab Suite with virtual anatomy capabilities. The facility will also enable robust remote learning access for students and professional who are part of the UW’s multi-state medical education program — WWAMI, which stands for the states served by the School of Medicine: Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho.
In addition, the health sciences deans envision a building with the capacity for students to immediately share ideas, images and projects in classrooms and in their working teams. The finished building will also have a library extension that is integrated into the main classroom floor to help students immediately engage evidence in their learning, gain skills in navigating resources and benefit from coaching about how to use library tools, resources and in their project work.
Fifty years ago, the average person was under the care of three health-care professionals. Now, the average healthy person relies on 16 professionals for their overall health care. Consequently, integrated patient care is increasingly necessary for the future of health sciences. The building will be a hub that fosters interaction, collaboration and cutting-edge learning necessary for recruiting and retaining talented students and faculty — critical to maintaining the UW’s top-ranked programs.
“The Health Sciences Education Building is a state-of-the-art facility that will prepare the next generation of professionals for a more collaborative, more collegial role as part of interprofessional teams to address today’s health care needs. From pandemics to health equity, the nation’s first integrated health sciences training facility will provide students with a high-tech learning space to develop solutions to global issues affecting population health,” said School of Nursing Executive Dean Azita Emami, who is also chair of the Board of Health Sciences Deans.
The building will be completed in May 2022.