Dignitaries gathered Tuesday morning for a virtual grand opening of the new Chappell Family Building for Nursing and Population Health at Thompson Rivers University.
The 49,000-square-foot space contains simulation labs, seminar rooms, student lounges, research space and breakout rooms across three storeys. It has 48 beds, three times the former number of beds in the existing Ken Lepin Building. The building will house nursing and allied health programs, including bachelor of science in nursing, health-care assistant and master of nursing.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has created much uncertainty across the world, but one thing it's made certain for us is the value of individuals who work in health care and of the training that equips them with the skills they need to be successful," said Brett Fairbairn, TRU's president and vice-chancellor.
"As British Columbia manages through COVID-19, universities like ours play a critical role in the economic and social recovery," he continued.
According to the province, there are over 5,000 job openings for registered nurses, practical nurses and health-care assistants in the Thompson-Okanagan forecasted by 2029. Provincewide, that number over the next 10 years is more than 78,000.
The $37.3-million project was funded by the province ($8 million), TRU's capital reserves and ongoing fundraising efforts. Construction on the southeast end of campus began with site clearing in April 2018.
Rani Srivastava, dean of nursing, told Castanet some students began entering the building earlier this summer.
"It's just so exciting to see students in those beautiful labs," she said, noting the majority of coursework will be online this school year.
"All of our theory, anything that can be online is absolutely being conducted virtually... including some of the simulations and those kinds of things. Having said that, all of ours students will be going into the lab portion. There are aspects of the learning that cannot be done in the same way virtually and so, all four years of our students will be in the building, in the lab, at some point in time during the semesters."