Contributed from: Charles Booth, APSU
CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – On Friday morning, Austin Peay State University unveiled its vision for a new Health Professions Building that will one day consolidate the University’s growing healthcare-related programs under one roof. Those programs include the School of Nursing and the departments of allied health sciences, health and human performance, psychological science and counseling and social work. The proposed facility has been in the planning stages for several years, but the project received a boost earlier this fall when the Tennessee Higher Education Commission ranked it as the No. 3 project on the state’s building list.
“They (APSU faculty) have done a great job preparing students for these great careers, but campus facilities are really critical in these particular areas,” APSU President Alisa White said. “You don’t want someone graduating with a health degree using old technology…it’s really important that we provide that opportunity for our students.”
The 114,600-square-foot, three-story Health Professions Building will be located on Eighth Street, just north of the Maynard Mathematics and Computer Science Building, and it will feature state-of-the-art research labs, active learning classrooms and collaborative learning spaces. If the state approves this project, construction will likely begin in 2021, with the building opening for classes for the fall 2023 semester.
In the last five years, the University has experienced extraordinary growth in the five academic departments that prepare students for healthcare careers, and once these individuals leave campus, they enter one of the best local job markets in the country. In the Nashville area alone, the healthcare industry contributes more than $46 billion and more than 270,000 jobs to the local economy each year.
Today, the University’s health professions students are scattered across campus, from the McCord Building to the Clement Building to the Sundquist Build to the Dunn Center, but once they leave campus, they’ll work in a field that is moving more toward interdisciplinary collaboration. The new Health Professions Building will encourage this type of collaborative education.
“I would lead with the idea of synergy and the idea that we have all these really strong departments, but we don’t have that synergy where we’re in the same place and we can have these practicum experiences that look like hospital experiences or clinical experiences and those types of things,” Dr. Tucker Brown, dean of the APSU College of Behavioral and Health Sciences, said.
Dr. Karen Meisch, interim dean of the APSU College of STEM, said the public will also benefit from this collaboration because many of Austin Peay’s graduates will work as health professionals in Clarksville.
“Having everybody in that space to be able to work together and understand everybody’s role is going to be really key for them going out and approaching a patient as a team,” she said.
Austin Peay has the lowest ratio of available square footage to full-time equivalency students in the state. The new building, if approved, will provide much-needed space for classrooms, laboratories and faculty offices, while also allowing these programs to grow. Dr. Chad Brooks, associate provost for research and dean of the APSU College of Graduate Studies, said the new building will allow the University to develop more healthcare-related programs.
“It’s a very optimistic time for Austin Peay,” he said.