Academic journal article Planning for Higher Education

Changing the Future of Health Care: The University of North Dakota's New School of Medicine and Health Sciences

Academic journal article Planning for Higher Education

Changing the Future of Health Care: The University of North Dakota's New School of Medicine and Health Sciences

Article excerpt

Designed and built for collaborative, interdisciplinary education through a highly engaged process, this building transforms health care education and health care for the entire state.

TODAY'S COLLEGE CAMPUSES are all about improving health and wellness, and so, when the state of North Dakota realized it was facing a looming medical crisis due to a shortage of doctors, the University of North Dakota (UND) opened its gates. As a result, health care and health care education will be improved for generations of North Dakotans to come.

To kick off the process, together the North Dakota Legislature and the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) developed a Health Care Workforce Initiative (HWI) to

>> Grow the number of health care students enrolled in the school;

>> Retain more health career graduates for practice in North Dakota;

>> Reduce disease burden; and

>> Improve the efficiency of health care delivery.

Armed with these goals, a team of architects and university stakeholders evaluated the effectiveness of existing programs and facilities at the SMHS to determine what the school had, how well it used what it had, and what else it needed to implement the HWI. A space utilization study conducted by JLG Architects and Perkins+Will in 2010 found a top-tier educational model bursting at the seams of too-tight quarters. The facility, a conversion of a 60-year-old hospital building, was stretched beyond its maximum capacity in accommodating enrollment as it was, let alone increasing it, and in danger of affecting overall academic programs--as an example, teaching wet labs were scheduled at 174 percent of their utilization. The study was conclusive: more students would require additional space.

The study also analyzed three options for growth, which ranged from an addition and renovation with minimal financial investment and minimal increases in educational opportunities and space to a new building that would meet the HWI target of a 24 percent increase in class size and encompass the strategic vision of the university for years to come. All three options were presented to the 2013 session of the North Dakota Legislature, and it in turn provided $122.45 million to redefine the national standard for medical education by creating an interdisciplinary learning environment that would totally readapt the university's health sciences curriculum and methodologies.


In addition to the goals of the HWI, the UND SMHS put forth three of its own:

>> Colocate health sciences and medical students. The best health care in the world happens when professionals work together, and the UND SMHS felt strongly that its graduates would be most effective in the workforce if they learned to collaborate early and often. At the time of the project's kickoff, UND SMHS students were spread out across campus.

>> Support the tri-mission of the UND SMHS: educate, research, serve.

>> Deliver the building on time and on budget. As the largest public building project in North Dakota history--the maximum amount given previously was $64 million--and with a set date of August 1, 2016, for the new building's first classes, there was no room for overages of any kind.

At the kickoff, it became clear that the biggest challenge and opportunity would be creating a unified vision. There were hundreds of direct stakeholders in the new SMHS--the UND, the SMHS, the UND SMHS Research Center, the North Dakota Board of Higher Education, the SMHS Advisory Board, the university Facilities Department, the North Dakota Legislative Assembly, the City of Grand Forks, and the local medical systems--and everyone deserved a voice.

To make sure all were heard, a three-firm architectural partnership made up of JLG Architects, Steinberg Architects, and Perkins+Will created a series of committees and work session groups. …

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