VOL. 131 | NO. 112 | Monday, June 6, 2016
UTHSC Preparing to Open $36.7M Educational Facility
By Andy Meek
The University of Tennessee Health Science Center has lined up an executive director who will be the first to lead academic programs in a new $36.7 million facility on campus that’s set to open next year.
Dr. Chad Epps was tapped to lead the university’s Interprofessional Simulation and Patient Safety Center, which will, among other things, bring students from all six UTHSC colleges to train together in simulation settings. Goals include helping future professionals develop skills in delivering team-based care using things like high-tech manikins and actors who portray patients with a variety of conditions.
“UTHSC has been working for some number of years actually, building up to this point,” said Epps, who’s been a consultant since January on the building, at 26 S. Dunlap St. “I was amazed at the kind of institutional resources being put into health care simulation here, and I was really drawn to the culture of wanting to make our health care delivery better through simulation. So it was a pretty easy sell.”
Another draw of the job for him was that the UTHSC building is a standalone facility dedicated to simulation training, something a bit uncommon in the field.
Each floor of the three-story building will be dedicated to a different aspect of simulation training. The first floor includes bed-skill stations that let students focus on pre-clinical skills and assessments. There will also be a simulated home environment where students can practice delivering in-home patient care.
The second floor will house a simulated acute-care setting that resembles a hospital environment. It will include patient rooms and a variety of manikins that can simulate everything from surgery to labor and delivery.
The standardized patient program will be housed on the third floor, and it will include 24 patient exam rooms, as well as a community pharmacy setting.
Dr. Lori Gonzalez, UTHSC vice chancellor for academic, faculty and student affairs, said the school was fortunate to nab Epps, who has a “reputation as a leader in simulation and interprofessional education.”
Most recently, Epps served as associate director for the Office of Interprofessional Simulation at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and as an associate professor with academic appointments in four schools there.
He has been active in simulation education, research, assessment and center management for more than a decade now. The UAB simulation team, for example, built an organizational model for implementing high-quality, interprofessional simulations at both the university and health system level.
And he’s excited to do more along those lines in Memphis. He said the new facility, planned to open in March on the site on the old Feurt Pharmacy Research Building that was torn down, will serve not only the university but its clinical partners as well.
“Health care simulation is still a really emerging discipline,” Epps said. “We use it in multiple different ways. We use it for education. It can be someone who’s a student or staff. A second area is assessment – for instance, in a hospital sometimes before you can do certain procedures you have to demonstrate competency in the simulation lab. And we can obviously do a lot of research in simulated environments that we can’t do in the real patient environment.”