For the first time in the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s history, nursing courses are taking place outside of Wharton Hall as the College of Nursing and Health Sciences begins its transition to the new Health Sciences Campus.

While much of the Health Sciences Campus is still undergoing renovations, junior and senior level didactic nursing courses, which are lecture-based, are being held in one of the newly-renovated buildings.

The fourth floor of the 501 Building now houses four large and two small classrooms, two conference rooms, a student lounge and a faculty lounge.

Dr. Lisa Broussard, the interim dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, stated that feedback from the students has been vital in shaping the space.

“We’re in constant communication with our students about what they wanted. One of the biggest things they wanted was a microwave, because they didn’t even have that,” Broussard said. ”And some of the basic things like a lounge where they could study and they could meet, some rooms for small group work, all of those things were taken into account.”

Broussard spoke on the aging Wharton Hall and how its issues, particularly its lack of space, were growing more apparent.

“They needed space because they were in rooms that, I mean, they were seated on top of each other,” Broussard said. “And they needed to be able to plug in their laptops, they knew they had to be fully charged because we didn’t have any electrical outlets.”

She also reflected on the history of the building, and the memories it held, while emphasizing the need to continue to move the department forward.

“We’ve been in this building since the 60s. Many, many of our faculty, myself included, were students in this building. It’s a great building, we have great memories and all that, but we’re all ready for something, you know, it’s our turn,” Broussard said.

Though lecture classes are currently all that’s being offered on the Health Sciences Campus, as the college continues its transition, the campus will house a state-of-the-art simulation center.

Dr. Kristi Anderson, UL Lafayette’s chief strategy officer, plays a vital role in the college’s transition and making sure all people involved have the support they need. She described some of the plans for this simulation center and what it might look like.

“They’re going from basically a room that’s the size of a classroom into an entire building where simulation is going to be like a mini hospital,” Anderson said. “I would think like a mini rural hospital that has probably a few floors, that has so much more space and ability to bring in that whole clinical experience.”

Broussard added that statewide simulation expos are held on campus, hosting visitors from across the state, a testament to the college’s excellence.

“There are other schools in the state that have much bigger, more space for their simulation center right now and have similar equipment that we do,” Broussard said. “But they don’t do the job that we do, because it’s really about curricular integration, faculty development, there’s a lot more to it than just building a nice space and just buying this equipment.”

Broussard continued, “What we do now with such a limited space, it’s going to be unbelievable what we can do with a regional simulation center.”

The offering of courses on the Health Sciences Campus is just the beginning, as more floors undergo renovation. According to Anderson, the university’s plan is to create a campus that will help to support the needs of the community by empowering its future workforce.

“We’re really excited to start planning and figuring out where all those specific areas are going to be developed in that space, and what we can do there,” Anderson said.