The new $12 million Health Simulation and Technology Center at Fox Valley Technical College (FVTC) in Appleton, Wis., provides career training to new and existing healthcare professionals in nursing, medical assistance, health information technology, occupational therapy, and personal care. The center’s design integrates sophisticated technology, such as human simulators, to help students better prepare for real-world situations.

The dual-functioning facility was created through a collaborative process between the healthcare and education design teams at Eppstein Uhen Architects (EUA). When considering the spectrum of simulation buildings, from fidelity (realism) to flexibility (allowing multiple functions), the college wanted maximum flexibility to help meet evolving healthcare training needs. This was a key driver to the final design, and the EUA team developed a solution that blended the two elements: Glass doors and supply servers provide realism, while adaptable rooms and movable partitions allow for a variety of teaching scenarios.

The new-build, three-story, 60,500-square-foot building features substantive glass and serves as a prominent entrance to the campus. Each floor of the building supports different teaching functions, as follows:

  • First floor, simulation center: Designed as a virtual hospital to replicate real-world clinical experiences.
    • Eight ED/hospital rooms, with realistic equipment and raised control/observation rooms with patient simulators
    • Debriefing rooms that feature instant video replay of medical scenarios performed in the hospital rooms, allowing instructors to give students real-time feedback
    • A mock ambulance bay for EMT training
  • Second floor, clinic and laboratory: Student gathering spaces, plus other simulation areas.
    • A replicated six-room outpatient clinic
    • Mock doctor’s office with reception area
    • Functioning phlebotomy lab
    • Two computer labs
  • Third floor, rehabilitative therapy and home healthcare: Designed to help students learn adaptive home care strategies.
    • Simulated home settings such as kitchen, bathroom, living room, and bedroom
    • Size-adjustable classrooms with physical and occupational therapy equipment.

The primary challenge with this project was that health simulation is an evolving curriculum. The FVTC administrative team, teaching staff, and EUA design team drew on successful simulation center best practices, and applied knowledge of healthcare and learning trends to provide flexibility for the future needs of the program.