UIC officials cut ribbon on high-fidelity Schwartz Lab

RIbbon cutting

By Deborah Ziff Soriano

Hosted by Dean Terri Weaver, UIC officials, alumni and friends gathered on the lower level of the College of Nursing building Saturday to formally dedicate the college’s new $6.1 million M. Christine Schwartz Experiential Learning & Simulation Laboratory.

Speaking at the ribbon-cutting, UIC Chancellor Michael Amiridis called the 15,000-square-foot facility an opportunity to “drive innovation in health care throughout the Chicagoland area,” adding that it improves student learning and equips faculty with the most cutting-edge teaching tools.

The high-fidelity facility is more than three times larger than the previous lab and includes the Nita & Phil Francis Family Birthing Suite, a 10-bed skills lab, nine exam rooms, a simulated emergency room, a home care setting, a large team-based-learning classroom and a student study lounge. The Schwartz Lab was funded entirely with philanthropic dollars, principally $5 million from Christine Schwartz, BSN ’70, and $1 million from Nita and Phil Francis to name the birthing suite. Support also came from students, notably through class gifts from the 2017, 2018 and 2019 classes.

“It’s surreal for me to see the completion of this lab,” Schwartz said at the ribbon-cutting. She went on to note the lab’s potential to create skilled nurses who “will touch hundreds, if not thousands of lives.”

Weaver credited Schwartz for her vision and commitment, saying the lab will allow faculty to curate unique learning experiences in an environment where students can learn from their mistakes.

“In thoroughly true-to-life simulated environments, like those throughout this beautiful facility, faculty can immerse students in high-stakes scenarios with low-stakes consequences,” Weaver said. “High-fidelity simulation is increasingly important as a means for faculty to expose students to patient experiences they might never encounter in their clinical rotations.”

Annette Lopez, a senior in the BSN program and president of the Urban Health Program College of Nursing Student Association, said the Schwartz Lab allows her and her classmates to explore a variety of areas of nursing, adding that they’re already making use of the quiet study space embedded in the lab.

“Your gift to us was more than financial,” Lopez said to Schwartz in her remarks. “We will be better prepared and more confident during our journey to become RNs because of your gift.”

The ribbon-cutting followed the college’s annual all-alumni reunion, which brought more than 200 alumni and friends together for an all-day celebration.

In addition to Amiridis and Weaver, UIC Provost Susan Poser and UIC Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs Robert Barish delivered remarks. Nursing faculty and student volunteers also were on hand to show off the facility’s capabilities, running simulations of a normal labor and delivery, a pediatric E.R. visit, and a home health appointment with an elderly man living alone.

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