Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Mount Mary Dives Into New Nursing Center

University has filled in pool, creating new home for its nursing programs.

By - Oct 28th, 2020 09:42 am
Concrete pour in swimming pool at Caroline Hall at Mount Mary University. Photo from the university.

Concrete pours into swimming pool at Caroline Hall at Mount Mary University. Photo from the university.

Mount Mary University is transforming a long-closed pool in the basement of one of its oldest buildings into a health sciences center for its nursing programs.

The 6,500-square-foot facility will create a home for the university’s new four-year nursing program, provide expanded facilities for its existing 1-2-1 partnership program and serve as an inter-professional collaboration lab for undergraduate and graduate students studying nursing, social work, counseling, occupational therapy, art therapy and dietetics.

The pool, which dates back to 1931, has been filled with chairs instead of water for a decade as the university closed it following declining use and growing maintenance costs and began using the space for furniture storage.

Now contractor VJS Construction Services has filled it with 100 yards of concrete to create a new room. New walls are going up, including subdividing space that was once a locker room with marble showers.

The new center will include an eight-bed clinical lab as well as hospital-style rooms with one-way glass and remote control capabilities to allow professors and students to observe students working in a practice medical setting and introduce simulated health events.

University president Christine Pharr, Ph.D., said the new facility fulfills a 2019-2025 campus plan to create a self-sustaining nursing program on campus.

Previously the university has had two nursing programs, a registered nurse to bachelor’s of science in nursing program (RN to BSN) where individuals would earn an associate’s degree at another institution and then while working complete online training with the university to earn their bachelor’s degree. A partnership program, dubbed 1-2-1, also allows students to attend Mount Mary for their freshman year, spend two years at a partner technical college earning an associate’s degree and then finish their fourth year and bachelor’s degree as part of the RN to BSN program.

Now the university will have the capability for students to go start to finish on its campus at N. 92nd St. and W. Burleigh St. It will be supported by clinical rotations at leading area hospitals, including Children’s Wisconsin, Froedtert, Advocate Aurora Health Care and Ascension.

“We are looking forward to many years of nursing in this space,” said Pharr at a ceremonial groundbreaking event Tuesday afternoon.

The university thinks it has a compelling offering to attract students. Cheryl Bailey, Ph.D., dean of the school of natural and health sciences, emphasized the benefits of the inter-professional training. Students will work across disciplines in a setting much like what they will encounter after graduating.

Chief nursing administrator Kara Groom, Ph.D., pitched the direct access to the program. If you’re accepted to the university, you’re accepted to the nursing program immediately. “Now they are learning with their peers instead of competing against their peers [for limited slots],” said Groom.

Karen Friedlen, vice president for academic affairs, said the university does a good job serving students who arrive on campus with a social justice mission.

About 60 percent of the nursing program’s students are women of color, a source of pride for the university and one that Pharr and others said helps support a social justice mission. “The nursing workforce in the state of Wisconsin does not mirror the diversity of our population,” said Groom.

The nursing center is one of two major projects underway on the campus. The university is also building a $45 million, intergenerational housing complex on the north end of its campus.

Both projects are expected to be completed in time for the 2021-2022 school year.

The university was founded as a ministry of the School Sisters of Notre Dame in 1913 and moved to its 80-acre home in 1929.

Mount Mary University has 1,349 students, including 726 female undergraduate and 623 co-ed graduate students, according to its website.


Historic Photos, Concrete Pour, Renderings

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