Tulsans who’ve been around a while have no doubt noticed that our higher education institutions are expanding.
The construction at 3420 S. Memorial Drive, the Lemley Campus of Tulsa Technology Center, speaks to a sub-trend in the booming education construction business in Tulsa: Schools are trying to find space to train enough medical professionals to satisfy what seems like an unquenchable demand for physicians, nurses and medical technicians.
Health Care: The Next Generation
Tulsa Technology Center is building a three-story, 179,067-SF, $28.6 million Health Careers Center at its Lemley campus. Crafton Tull Sparks Education is serving as architect and Flintco is contractor on the project.
The new Health Careers Center will become the signature building for the campus. Ground was broken a year ago this month and progress is on schedule and on budget. Staff and students should be ready to move into the building in another year.
“If you look at the health field, it is probably the single occupational or workforce area that we deal with that has a very high demand for skilled workers,” said Dr. Gene Callahan, Tulsa Technology Center president.
“We’re told by people in the field that it takes 20-25 technicians to back up a doctor and nurse. That’s our role – to train the people who work with the doctors and nurses, wherever they might be.”
Health curricula represent the single largest cluster of programs at TTC, with 32 full-time teachers and 11 programs out of 150 total teachers and nearly 90 programs. Enrollment in these programs are always 100 percent, Callahan said.
Get Your Scrubs On
The building is designed to simulate “the real-world health clinic,” Callahan said. “When you walk in on the first floor, you’re going to find a laboratory that will resemble those in a modern health clinic.”
The building will include labs for certified nursing assistants, practical nursing, sports medicine and chemistry and forensics, as well as classrooms. The building will also house two CPR labs, a dental, medical and vision care clinic, six mock operating rooms, and a surgical demonstration classroom.
“When we got into the planning stages of this, our folks went to Saint Francis and really looked at their operating rooms to see how they really operate,” Callahan said. “So, when students do go to work, they’re going to feel more comfortable being there.”
The building will feature a four-story glass atrium that will open the classroom areas and the 300-foot central corridor to natural light.
The new Health Careers Center is just the first step of an overhaul of the campus. Funding for the project came from savings in the TTC building fund, Callahan said, a tactic allowed to career tech schools.
Callahan plans to open the facility by December 2008.
Sign of the Times
Facilities like the Health Careers Center at Tulsa Technology Center are being built in increasing numbers locally and nationally, said Britt Embry, architect of the Health Careers Center project and vice president at SPARKS Education, a division of Crafton, Tull, Sparks & Associates Inc., 1717 S. Boulder Ave., Ste. 900.
“A very large number of institutions are adding or expanding those programs that typically involve either constructing or adding to existing facilities,” he said.
The statewide construction boom has filtered into higher education, which has been looking for solutions to nursing and doctor shortages for some time.
“There are several factors happening. First, our general population has been increasing, but we have not kept pace with increasing all of the health care specialty graduate programs with population growth,” said Dr. Gerard Clancy, president of OU-Tulsa. “Second, the demand for health services by this big spike in our population – the baby boomers – is there. Third is the desire of many physicians to have a more controlled lifestyle.”
OU-Tulsa’s new 100,000-SF Schusterman Center Clinic, completed earlier this summer at 41st and Yale Ave., was provided by the Vision 2025 bond issue passed by Tulsa County voters in 2003 and partly by the Charles and Lynn Schusterman family. The $35 million facility is designed to improve patient care, availability for outpatient visits and expand medical research.
Students in medicine, nursing, pharmacy, physical therapy, social work, radiography, occupational therapy, physician assistants, public health and resident physicians are housed in the clinic.
OU-Tulsa can train 100 medical students at a time at OU-Tulsa and over 200 residents. The nursing program is 300 strong.
“The med school is capped – there are far more applications than there are positions available, though we’ve added a new physician assistant program this year,” Clancy said.
Keepin’ It Real
The key to designing an educational space that teaches in real-time is true-to-life simulation.
“The trend now is to teach nursing and medical students in an environment as close to that as they would find in either a hospital, clinic or office as you can provide,” Embry said.
The new 47,000-SF, $8 million Medical and Biotechnology Learning Center on the southeast campus of Tulsa Community College, yet another school building centered on health sciences that opened Feb 8., will house the school’s new biotechnology program, along with the nursing level two and medical laboratory technology programs. The extra space should allow TCC to increase the capacity to educate nurses by 30 percent, said Dr. Tom McKeon, TCC president.
The unit for biotech majors is “a really hands on unit,” said Dr. Joe Parli, associate dean of the math and science department at the southeast campus.
“We went around the country and designed that lab just like what they will see in the industry. When they go in there, they train and are ready to go into the workforce and work.” ?