Whatcom Community College’s new Health Professions Education Center will open next fall after several years of college discussions, and identifying space issues and equipment needs of the nursing/health programs.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Cindy Burman-Woods, Workforce Projects director for Whatcom.
The 28,000-square-foot building will house Whatcom’s nursing and three allied health profession classes for the medical assisting, massage practitioner and physical therapy assistant programs, in a facility located near the wetlands where Cordata and Stuart intersect.
Constructing the building from the ground up enables college administrators and staff to plan out details from classroom layout to electrical outlet placement. Burman-Woods said this hands-on process allows the college to get everything tailored exactly as it needs. The amenities will include high technology simulation labs for nursing instruction and an enhanced lab for the medical assisting program.
These simulation labs essentially mirror what is in a hospital environment, she said. Students will hone their skills on life-sized, interactive medical mannequins.
The nursing program’s current simulation laboratory is “very nice [but] it is very crowded. We don’t have enough space to serve all the students,” said Burman-Woods.
Whatcom’s nursing/allied health programs annually serve about 300 students who are involved in the for credit and continuing education classes.
Plans for the medical assisting classroom include lab space that replicates the clinic environment. It will feature a reception area, two fully enclosed examination rooms, four curtained exam rooms and a lab with an area for drawing blood, she said.
The setting gives students “a rich environment and a safe environment in which to practice their skills,” Burman-Woods said.