College Breaks Ground on Health Sciences Building

May. 10, 2019
Office of Communications
Assumption Faculty, Staff, and Students turning the dirt at the Health Sciences groundbreaking event.
Second New Academic Facility on Campus in Only Three Years

Before a gathering of students, Trustees, faculty, and staff, Assumption College today broke ground on a new, 41,000-square-foot Health Sciences building that will welcome students in fall 2020.

“In this new building, we will not simply train future nurses and health care professionals to treat a disease or ailment,” said College President Francesco C. Cesareo, Ph.D. “At Assumption, our unique programs will form individuals who will treat the human person with compassion.  Health care professionals that graduate from Assumption will be renowned for their empathy and those who understand and respect the dignity of the human person.”

In addition to providing formal training for health care providers, the undergraduate nursing program includes a foundation in the liberal arts. Students in this program will benefit from the classic liberal arts tradition- a tradition of learning that will form students to be complete individuals who can adapt to evolutions in the health care industry. Both the nursing and physician assistant graduate program will be grounded in Catholic teachings and principles. The interdisciplinary education opportunities that will be available in the Health Sciences building will benefit not only the School of Nursing and School of Health Professions, which includes the physician assistant program, but several other departments and majors across the campus. 

The new, 41,000-square foot building will feature four classrooms, one for 32 students, two for 48 and a large tiered classroom for 50. These classrooms will not only be used exclusively for the nursing and physician assistant program, rather all academic programs on campus. Each classroom will be fully equipped with a recording system for simulations that will be used during debriefings.

The nursing floor features a spacious nursing skills lab with seven full-sized hospital beds for teaching proper patient care.  Four simulation labs will have hi-fidelity mannequins which will simulate actual patient conditions (vitals, seizures, cardiac arrest, childbirth, etc) remotely controlled by a technician.

“Nursing students will benefit from the Clinical Learning Suite which combines high fidelity simulation, the use of standardized patients, and low fidelity task trainers to facilitate the development of clinical judgement as they move through the curriculum,” said Caitlin Stover, Ph.D., RN. Dean of Nursing. “The opportunity to have interactive classrooms and clinical labs equipped with the latest Apple technology will also engage the students in active learning strategies which is another means of developing their critical thinking and clinical reasoning skills.”

The physician assistant floor will feature a practice lab with 11 exam tables for teaching how to properly diagnosis a condition. Two simulation labs, comparable to the nursing floor, complement four Objective Structured Clinical Examination rooms where live ‘patient-actors’ will dictate a script of medical maladies to teach students how to take a medical history, diagnose a patient and perform a physical exam. The clinical lab space also will serve as a learning environment for clinical procedures, such as suturing and interventional skills. The program will welcome its first cohort of students in January 2021. 

Physician assistants are medical professionals who diagnose illness, develop and manage treatment plans, prescribe medications, and often serve as a patient’s principal healthcare provider. With thousands of hours of medical training, physician assistants are versatile, collaborative and practice in every state and in every medical setting and specialty, improving healthcare access and quality.

“Physician assistant students will learn using the state-of-the-art facilities available in the new building,” said Professor Michael Whitehead, Dean of Health Professions and Physician Assistant Program Director. “The extensive clinical lab space will provide an area for students to learn and practice patient assessment and clinical skills. High-fidelity mannequins and live patients in the Sim labs and patient exam rooms will greatly improve the students’ patient care skills.  An attractive, modern building will enhance the student experience and also serve as a recruiting tool looking ahead.”

The physician assistant profession is ranked third in the U.S. News and World Report 100 Best Jobs and is first on the list among the health professions. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a “much faster than average” growth of the profession through 2026. The average physician assistant salary is currently over $110,000.

The building will also provide students of all academic disciplines a number of comfortable study lounges, break-out spaces and debriefing rooms, conference rooms, offices for faculty/staff/adjuncts and suites for each of the Deans.

“Assumption is blessed with a number of impressive academic facilities,” said President Cesareo. “But it is not the exterior design alone that impresses upon alumni, current students and prospective students. Rather, it is what occurs inside these buildings. To this, I refer to the College’s faculty. Experts in their chosen field who impart upon students their knowledge and inspire with their passion. Similar to the Plourde, Kennedy, Testa, Fuller and the Tsotsis buildings, within the walls of this new building will be a hive of exploration and discovery – where students who have answered a call and are dedicated to improving one’s quality of life will thrive.”

“When an institution can educate a health professional amongst other health practitioners, the opportunity to impact patient outcomes becomes endless,” said Stover and Whitehead. “We anticipate many collaborations across the Assumption College campus as well as with our clinical partners. The new building signifies Assumption’s commitment to both the nursing and physician assistant programs.”

The building was designed by Nault Architects and is being constructed by Lauring Construction.