UTMB’s new Health Education Center (HEC) will provide the space to accommodate UTMB’s increasing enrollments and employ the advanced technology necessary to train students in an interdisciplinary environment to help Texas meet the rising demand for health care providers in the coming years.
The HEC—which is expected to open to students in 2019—will feature more than 160,000 square feet spread over five floors at its location at 11th and Market streets on UTMB’s Galveston Campus. It will serve as the centerpiece of UTMB’s educational future and represents the largest and most dramatic addition to the institution’s educational infrastructure in many years.
“This is a major infrastructure project for UTMB but, more importantly, UTMB is driving its design by focusing on our educational priorities and programs,” said Dr. Michael Ainsworth, senior associate dean for Educational Performance. “A building on its own isn’t the end result. But new facilities create opportunities for education to evolve, and that’s what the Health Education Center is doing for UTMB: allowing our educational mission to continue to move in new and innovative directions. We are confident that this new facility will allow us to advance programs that will prepare our graduates to function effectively in an increasingly complex interprofessional health care environment.”
The $90.4 million Health Education Center—funded by a $67.8 million Tuition Revenue Bond approved by the Texas Legislature and another $22.6 million coming from philanthropy—will feature:
- A Simulation Center with a standardized patient suite and flexible simulation labs that will enable students to practice a wide range of skills in a low-risk, high-realism environment;
- series of simulation debriefing rooms where students can meet with faculty to assess performance and outline strategies for improvement; and
- collaborative instructional spaces to accommodate the planned growth of UTMB’s interprofessional education programs.
The Health Education Center is seen as an emblem of UTMB’s continued service to Texas, particularly as the state faces shortages of health care providers while at the same time grapples with a growing number of patients who need care.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population in Texas is growing at a faster clip than pretty much everywhere else in the U.S. And the segment of the population growing the fastest is Texans aged 65 or older, who consume the largest per capita share of health care resources.
The Health Education Center will help bridge that gap by providing the technologically advanced training necessary to future physicians, biomedical researchers, nurses, physician assistants, clinical laboratory scientists, and occupational, physical and respiratory therapists, as well as experts in nutrition and rehabilitation science.
Ainsworth said the center will enable UTMB’s enrollment to grow to meet this demand while also providing the education students will need to excel in the real world.
Through a combination of simulation centers and large learning studios that foster active learning strategies where students can tackle challenging medical cases in small group settings, the Health Education Center creates the educational environment that best prepares future health care providers, he said.
Another significant benefit of the center’s design is support for interdisciplinary training, where students from each of UTMB’s four schools learn together in a collaborative environment.
While Ainsworth stressed that the HEC’s learning studios and simulation centers will augment rather than replace lecture-hall style education, he emphasized that developing communication and interpersonal relationship skills in students is a focus moving forward.
“The personal interactions you have in small groups and the development of inter-collegial relationships from different disciplines and schools is something you can’t replicate in a lecture hall,” he said. “These are critical factors in their success as practitioners, and we believe the HEC will foster this type of learning.”
Christine Hermes, principal facilities project manager in UTMB’s Department of Design and Construction and the project manager for the HEC, said the former parking lot where the new center will be constructed has already been closed and fenced, clearing the way for site work to begin.
Hermes, who also served as project manager on the recently constructed Clinical Services Wing, said the steering committee for the HEC—comprising representatives from UTMB’s four schools, the Provost’s Office, Information Technology and Facilities—was instrumental in guiding this project’s success.
“Watching these groups come together and come to agreements on what needs to be done to support education and UTMB’s mission, has been very rewarding,” Hermes said. “Their passion and dedication to making the center a reality has been inspiring.”
Innovations in Mind fundraising initiative starts for UTMB Health Education Center
UTMB students are taking advantage of an opportunity to help shape the university’s future by contributing to the new Health Education Center (HEC). The Student Campaign, part of UTMB’s $50 million Innovations in Mind fundraising initiative, is dedicated to helping raise a portion of the $22.6 million in philanthropic support needed for the HEC. It is the first phase of fundraising for the new facility.
- Students can contribute online at https://innovationsinmind.utmb.edu/student or in-person at a Student Giving Tuesdays table on Jan. 24, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., at one of the following Galveston Campus locations: Jamail Student Center, the Moody Medical Library or the SON/SHP building. You can meet and talk with campaign chairs and committee members.
- The Student Campaign was launched in December, and officially kicked off at a Jan. 12 event in Levin Hall.
- Students are encouraged to make their gifts by Feb. 2 to have their contributions included in a check presentation that day at Town Hall.
- UTMB School of Medicine alumnus Dr. Edgar Cortes (’69) and his wife, Dr. Imelda Cortes, have issued a special challenge, agreeing to match all student contributions up to $5,000 to the Health Education Center.
- Every student who makes a gift of $50 or more to the Health Education Center will be recognized on a special wall of honor in the HEC.
- Students can also show support by using the official hashtag—#Allin4HEC—in social media posts. Make your gift today and join other UTMB students, alumni and employees in showing your support for the HEC and the future of health sciences education.