Shared Nursing Education Center Moving Forward

Rendering of South Street Landing redevelopment project that includes the shared Nursing Education Center

Rendering of South Street Landing redevelopment project that includes the shared Nursing Education Center

The nursing programs of Rhode Island College and the University of Rhode Island are moving forward on a shared Nursing Education Center (NEC) in Providence’s 195 Redevelopment District that will be a significant investment in nursing education and increase learning opportunities for current and future students while preserving the unique character of each nursing program.

Part of a larger renovation known as South Street Landing at the corner of South and Eddy Streets, the NEC will feature 133,000 square feet of shared simulation labs, clinical teaching labs, mock hospital areas and classrooms, as well as offices that represent a significant upgrade in teaching technology and learning environments. Housed within a former power station and close to the Alpert Medical School of Brown University, the South Street Landing project will also include space for Brown University administrative offices, making this a one-of-a-kind public and private higher education partnership.

Dean of Nursing Jane Williams stressed that the home base for the RIC nursing program will remain on the college’s Mt. Pleasant campus but that the addition of the NEC will provide existing and future students with better technology and much-needed space. “We have a great need for space,” said Williams of her school’s current 8,000-square-foot location in the Fogarty Life Science Building. Locating aspects of both the RIC undergraduate and graduate nursing offerings at the NEC will require significant planning. Over the next 18 months, the RIC nursing faculty will be envisioning how to best use the new facilities. The planning will involve working cooperatively with URI to actualize the potential of the NEC as an extraordinary resource for nursing education.

Williams also looked to the future, stating, “The NEC will allow us to consider building the capacity of our baccalaureate and graduate programs – capacity that is needed to support Rhode Island’s growing health care sector.”The health care and social services sector is the state’s largest industry, encompassing more than 3,200 unique businesses and employing more than 81,000 people, according to recent data from the R.I. Department of Labor and Training. The department also projects significant long-term growth in the demand for registered nurses, predicting nearly 4,400 openings over the next decade.

The NEC is scheduled for occupancy in Fall 2016. The developer of the project, Commonwealth Ventures, is leveraging existing tax breaks connected to the former power station, thereby making the project economically feasible. Under the terms of the lease with the developer – vetted and approved by the General Assembly, Board of Education and State Properties Committee – the state will enter into a 15-year lease with an option to purchase after six years.

The project is also strongly supported by many community stakeholders, including the Providence Chamber of Commerce and the Providence Foundation, not only for its innovative collaboration but also for its future economic impact. The opening of the state-of-the-art facility is viewed as an important step in transforming downtown Providence and creating a health care hub for the region.