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Tampa General Hospital invests $4.4 million in new training lab for USF College of Nursing

TGH is investing $4.4 million over six years to support the planning and implementation of the USF College of Nursing Simulation Lab.

Tampa General Hospital and the University of South Florida are teaming up on a new simulation center that will help train future nurses.

TGH is investing $4.4 million over six years to support the center’s planning and implementation. It will be located at the USF Health College of Nursing on the Tampa campus.

“This very generous gift from Tampa General is going to allow us to build a simulation center that is very contemporary,” Dean of the College of Nursing, Dr. Usha Menon said. “It allows us to accommodate the almost 200% growth that we’re anticipating over the next five years in our undergraduate enrollment.”

The Tampa General Hospital USF Health College of Nursing Simulation Lab will include 12 clinical examination rooms, four simulation learning labs, a multipurpose learning lab, six high-fidelity simulation rooms, six debriefing classrooms, and six control rooms.

The state-of-the-art facility will enable nursing students to work in simulated scenarios to practice vital signs and patient safety, transitions of care, medicine administration safety, sepsis identification, and communication with patients, among other clinical skills.

"There's so many things that you do, especially in a hospital setting that you really shouldn't be doing for the first time when you walk into the hospital," Menon said. "And so this allows us to not only create those sorts of scenarios, but it gives the students an opportunity to practice them over and over."

Nurses holding light sticks
USF Foundation
Bull Nursing graduates lead the Path of Light procession following Summer Pinning 2023

Menon explained that among the equipment that will assist in the training are mannequins that simulate real-world treatment scenarios.

“These mannequins are so high-tech that it’s almost eerie,” she said. “We can set their breathing to different rates. We can speed up heart rates. So it’s really amazing what this kind of technology allows us to do in terms of getting students to practice clinical skills.”

The project was celebrated during the USF College of Nursing's 50th Anniversary Jubilee Gala at the Tampa Museum of Art, which followed the annual “pinning ceremony” for graduating nursing students.

John Couris is the CEO of Tampa General Hospital. During the event, he explained the importance of investing in local nursing education.

“We’re facing a crisis when it comes to our nursing workforce. There will not be enough trained nurses to fill our need to care for patients,” he said. “With this new simulation lab, we’re using the latest technologies to ensure nurses are not just qualified, but also practiced and experienced in clinical situations.”

A statewide analysis by the Florida Hospital Association shows that, as hospitals see historically high turnover rates after the COVID-19 pandemic, the state should face an overall shortage of 59,000 nurses by 2035.

The USF-TGH partnership is not the first initiative to help remedy this situation. In June 2022, Gov. Ron DeSantis approved $33 million in the fiscal 2022-23 budget for the college.

The aid went to infrastructure expansion and enhancement of simulation training spaces.

Another $6.9 million was allocated in recurring funding for the college to hire faculty and staff to support the expansion.

João Victor Pina is the WUSF Rush Family Radio News intern for fall of 2023.