High-class new digs

New nursing facilities open at Georgia State, Kennesaw State By Laura Raines   Pulse editor…

Georgia (Jun 28, 2010) — By Laura Raines


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New nursing facilities open at Georgia State, Kennesaw State

Pulse editor

The nursing faculty and students at Georgia State and Kennesaw State universities are smiling more than usual these days, and they have good cause. Despite cuts to education funding throughout the University System of Georgia, the two schools’ nursing departments have new, long-awaited labs and classrooms. …

The new 200,000-square-foot Health Sciences Building at Kennesaw State University will provide laboratory and classroom space for most of the WellStar College of Health and Human Services, which includes the departments of nursing, social work and human services, health physical education and sports science. The building, which was scheduled to be completed on July 1, will be dedicated on Aug. 5.

To help alleviate the nursing shortage, Kennesaw’s nursing department has increased enrollment during the last few years and needed the new space to accomodate more students.

“Our old 1,700 square feet of lab space was crowded and operated from dawn until dusk,” said David Bennett, Ph.D., RN, associate dean of the WellStar College of Health and Human Services. “Now we won’t be fighting each other for scarce resources, and students will have more time in the lab.”

There are nine high-tech classrooms that hold 60 to 120 students each. One is equipped for distance learning, and portable teleconferencing carts can transform almost any location into a virtual meeting space. There’s a classroom with a one-way glass interview room inside, which allows social work students to observe interviewing techniques.

All the classrooms are wireless and have electrical connections for laptops.

“I believe this is one of the most wired buildings in the University System,” said Bennett, who has overseen the building construction.

The Health Sciences Building houses 13,000 square feet of nursing laboratory space, including two graduate assessment labs, three general nursing skills labs, five student testing rooms and eight physical assessment rooms.

Simulated hospital rooms come equipped with IVs, feeding pumps and patient-controlled analgesia pumps. There are three human-simulator pods, each with two patient rooms separated by a control room, where teachers can observe how nursing students respond to emergency situations.

“When we first started using simulation, I thought it wasn’t a good substitution for real clinical experience, but our students tell us that they feel so much more comfortable and prepared now for the hospital,” Bennett said. “They’ll have had experience dealing with a number of complications before they ever get to a real unit.”

The building also has a wet lab for faculty research, and a study and data analysis room for the department’s doctoral students.

“One of the advantages of the new building is that nursing students now have a space where they can study and collaborate together on projects. There was no space for collegiality before,” Bennett said.

Lounges near the front of the building are comfortably furnished and wired for the Internet. There are eight group work rooms equipped with flat-screen monitors and presentation technology.

“We took some of the nursing student leaders through the building before we opened and their mouths were hanging open. One said, ‘Wow, we don’t have to sit under the stairwells anymore,’ ” he said.

The building will bring together departments now housed in seven buildings, and will allow nursing and other departments to continue growing.

Kennesaw State was fortunate with the timing of the building project, Bennett said. The funding was secured before the 2008-2009 economic crisis, and the recession has kept construction costs lower than expected. The University System sold $45 million in bonds to construct the building, and Kennesaw State and private donors raised $13 million to furnish it.

“We have used the money wisely,” Bennett said. “Dean [Richard] Sowell sent faculty all over the country to visit top nursing programs and came back with ideas on how to best use the space.”

At the first meeting with architects, faculty members came armed with specs, information and photos of what they wanted for the building.

“We were prepared,” Bennett said. “Almost everything in this building was faculty-driven, and we’re really proud of the result.”



A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu