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Learning under the same roof

Sep 17, 2013 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

CWC's health/sci center brings nursing, science students together

Central Wyoming College nursing instructor Debbie McClure said it's been refreshing to see her colleagues in the science departments more often this year.

"It's certainly nice to be as close to them as we are," she said. "I bump into them on the stairway."

There's a big reason: The new CWC Health and Science Center, which is now in use and has its official dedication ceremony this Friday, Sept. 20.

She recalled one chance meeting that led to a public relations opportunity in the nursing simulation lab. Biology professor Steve McAllister happened to see McClure just before he led a tour of middle school students through the Health and Science Center. He asked McClure if he could bring the group into her simulation lab.

"I said, 'Sure, should I make a mannequin talk to them?'" McClure laughed. "He said, 'You can do that?' I said I'd be happy to.

"We were never able to do anything like that before."

She believes the collaboration will allow science and health instructors at CWC to expose students and community members to more opportunities for learning at the school.

"To me, that may extrapolate out to people being more anxious to remain in the community to go to school, at least initially," she said. "That'd be my hope, that this publicly funded building be busy all the time. ... We should be using it 12 months out of the year for all kinds of purposes, not just registered college students but people in the community as well."

CWC health and science dean Kathy Wells agreed that students now will have more opportunities to experience an array of science and health subjects under the same roof. In the past, someone studying chemistry may not have come into contact with anyone in the nursing field at CWC. Now, however, students and faculty from a variety of backgrounds are more likely to meet and talk about their interests.

"Having them all in the same building ... keeps them in close contact," Wells said. "Ultimately (that) does benefit students."

Intermingling can be fun for the staff, too. McAllister said he enjoys taking tours through the simulation lab, which was designed to closely resemble a working hospital.

"It really is neat up there on the second floor," he said.

He thinks a lot of his science students are more likely to become interested in nursing now that they can see the simulation lab every day and interact with nursing students walking through the hallways.

"You can see their eyes light up," McAllister said. "They can sort of see what they're aspiring to. ... They see the spaces where they're going to (work). In that way it generates a lot of interest for new students coming in taking pre-requisite courses."

Before, he said he never took his students to the nursing area in the ProTech building.

"It was like the nursing program was somewhat hidden, really," McAllister said.

Suki Smaglik, who teaches geology at CWC, said even her students have taken an interest in the nursing lab.

"It's kind of hard to relate geology and nursing unless someone falls off a rock, (but) my students have been wandering upstairs," Smaglik said, adding that she also feels more connected to the rest of campus in the new center.

"We're not secluded; we're really out front," Smaglik said. "A lot of people are walking through this building to get to other places. ... It's fun. It feels like campus is more connected."