Health sciences to unite in Healthplex

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One of the key elements of the University of Indianapolis’ five-year plan, which will invest $50 million in the campus over that period, is the four-story, 134,000 square foot health sciences center. The building will be used for teaching students in the health sciences programs, as well as by members of the campus and surrounding community.

“I definitely think that this will benefit students,” said junior nursing major Sutton Knapp. “From my clinical experiences I have been able to observe how much collaboration goes on between all different types of healthcare workers. … If students can learn to work together in a clinical and school setting, they will be much more prepared for their future careers.”

The five-year plan is intended to enhance educational opportunities and living space for students and provide services for the University Heights community and beyond.

The plan includes renovations to the Krannert Memorial Library,  replacement of the Campus Apartments, expansion of the biology, chemistry and physics labs, personnel investments and men’s and women’s lacrosse teams, as well as the new health sciences facility.

According to Dean of the College of Health Sciences Stephanie Kelly,  nursing, psychology, physical therapy, occupational therapy, kinesiology and athletic training students will have classroom and lab space set aside specifically for their disciplines, as well as areas that will allow them to collaborate on various projects.

“I don’t know that we ever dreamed of a building this size, that would house all of these disciplines,” Kelly said. “There was interest in doing interdisciplinary-type activities.”

Kelly said that the building will be “active and vibrant,” with many people in the community and at the university interacting on the lower levels.

She also said that collaborators on the project see the building as much more than just an academic space, even though it is on a college campus. The building will create space that is more conducive to collaboration between programs, as opposed to the current space.

“Martin Hall mostly has hallways and very few open gathering spaces. We’ve got several disciplines in the building, but the students don’t turn to interacting on a social level,” Kelly said. “We’re hoping that some of the design elements of the building will foster students to want to interact.”

According to Kelly, the exact use of the building in regard to the community aspect is unclear at this time. Some of the current ideas for discussion include space for health and wellness education, fitness space and a place that community organizations can utilize for events.

“The external and internal configuration of the building is being considered as it relates to our community partners, potential students, current students, faculty, scholarship productivity, etc,” said Dean of Nursing Anne Thomas. “It will be a very inviting and engaging space, and we want to exhibit ‘health’ in the best way possible.”

According to Thomas, the structuring of the building is the work of the deans for the programs in the Healthplex. Faculty in the programs, the provost and President Robert Manuel and his team also have been involved.

Because the building is one of the final projects in the five-year plan, current students most likely will not see the impact of the center during their college careers. However, some current students could have the opportunity to experience the benefits if they choose to attend graduate school at UIndy.

Knapp is one of those students. She will not get to use the building as an undergraduate, but she expressed interest in possibly attending graduate school at UIndy.

Knapp said that the center will help health sciences students be more familiar with the real-life health care workplace.

“I wish that this was something that was available when I was applying for college,” Knapp said. “I would have been much more interested in nursing right off the bat.”

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