Building Spaces for Leading-Edge Training
Allied health training programs have evolved to meet 21st century needs, and today’s buildings must follow suit. Specialized training facilities blend the best attributes of both higher education and healthcare designs, requiring expertise in both disciplines. In particular, high-fidelity simulation labs offer students the chance to practice clinical skills in a safe, controlled environment.
The design of these labs should incorporate a number of specialized spaces to support this highly technical program type, including:
- Lab/demonstration spaces. These spaces need to be generously sized to support 3-5 students, circulation, mock patient bed, high fidelity patient simulator, medical equipment, and a large video screen at the footwall for immediate debriefing.
- Adjacent work space for student observation. Often very helpful for demonstrations to groups, these observation rooms should be separated from the mock patient rooms with doors for acoustical privacy.
- Adjacent control rooms. These spaces are critical for simulator control, instructor observation, and recording. One control room per patient area is ideal, though a shared control room for 2 patient areas is workable. These spaces should have one-way mirrors (ideally 5’ to 6’ wide and near the foot of the bed for optimum sightlines), integrated technology, and acoustical separation. Providing remote observation space for faculty helps students develop independence without relying on the instructor for visual cues.
- Small conference spaces near the simulation lab. Small breakout spaces allow immediate instructor feedback and a discussion of lessons learned following each session.
- Generous workrooms. Simulators require frequent programming, maintenance, cleaning, and repair. Workspace should include maneuvering space for heavy equipment, and work-height counters wide enough to accommodate the life-sized models. The technician, who will train staff, schedule simulations, prepare simulators and computers for events, address technical issues, and provide IT support for the highly specialized equipment, will also require a nearby office.
All lab spaces will require careful attention to finishes, which must be safe, durable, easy to clean, and resistant to any chemicals used in a particular space. Ideally, lab finishes should replicate those found in corresponding healthcare environments to create as authentic an experience as possible. Due to the high volume of specialized medical equipment in lab spaces, the design team must also coordinate with a diverse team of medical, dental, and lab equipment experts to select and install items such as ceiling-mounted surgical and exam lights, anesthesia columns, radiology equipment rails, wall-mounted surgical scrub sinks, patient monitoring systems, and x-ray equipment.
Becky Smith, LS3P Principal and Vice President, joined LS3P in 1994 and has more than 30 years of experience in planning, programming, design, and project management. She is also highly experienced in the design of education, research, and health sciences facilities for both corporate and higher education clients. Working on nursing labs, patient simulation labs, and surgical labs for allied health projects blends Becky’s healthcare, sciences, and higher education expertise for allied and health sciences. When not at the office, Becky can be found traveling, reading, cooking, gardening, camping, hiking, kayaking, and swimming; clients appreciate her energy and enthusiasm as well as her specialized expertise