Sacred Heart University to celebrate opening of Center for Healthcare Education

FAIRFIELD—After nearly two years of construction, Sacred Heart University’s new Center for Healthcare Education is ready to open. Staff and faculty from the College of Health Professions and College of Nursing have moved into the state-of-the-art building, and students will begin their studies with the latest technology and modern features there this fall.

The official unveiling will be Friday, September 22, at 11 am, and health-care workshops and lectures will take place throughout the year to celebrate the new facility and inform the community about the importance of health care.

For years, the College of Health Professions and College of Nursing operated at the Cambridge building in Trumbull. Construction crews broke ground on the new site in June 2015 and built the three-story, 120,000-square-foot center and 50,000-square-foot parking garage that both sit on 8.7 acres of land. The building was designed by SLAM, a national architectural firm based in Glastonbury and is a $65 million investment for the University. SLAM is also working on the University of Notre Dame’s Campus Crossroads project.

“The expanded space and updated equipment will offer new opportunities for learning and ensure that students graduate well prepared and ready to make their mark in the booming health care industry,” said SHU President John J. Petillo.

One of those opportunities is the ability of faculty and students to offer multi-professional clinics that will expose both students and patients to a collaborative, holistic approach to services for everyone from children to the elderly. Disciplines that will collaborate in clinical services include athletic training, exercise science, nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, physician assistant and speech-language pathology.

The center also will house laboratory and classroom facilities designed to support a collaborative, team-based learning environment. There is an immersive, acute-care simulation lab with video and data-capture capability to provide enhanced feedback on performance in a clinical setting. Instructors no longer will have to stand over students as they go through a simulation; instead, instructors can record the video and provide guidance afterward alongside the students.

“We are excited to see years of work come together and to celebrate with the community in September,” said Patricia Walker, dean of the College of Health Professions. “Students will greatly benefit from the new technologies in this building. In addition to allowing us to have new types of labs with emerging technologies, the rooms are larger, allowing collaborative activities involving more than one program. New social spaces both inside and outside the building will encourage more interaction among students and between faculty and students. The center is also closer to the main campus and will allow our faculty and students to participate more in University events. We are grateful to the University leadership for giving us this opportunity.”

The College of Health Professions includes over 1,000 undergraduate, post-baccalaureate and graduate students and 56 full-time faculty members. It offers bachelor’s degrees, graduate certificate programs, master’s degree programs and a doctoral program in physical therapy. U.S. News and World Report ranked SHU’s physical therapy program nationally number one in Connecticut and top five in New England. There is a 100 percent pass rate among SHU students on the occupational therapy and athletic training certification exams. Students and faculty, in both the College of Nursing and College of Health Professions, travel abroad on service trips to underdeveloped countries throughout the year to offer their skills and expertise.

In the Center for Healthcare Education, enhanced athletic training, human performance and motion-analysis labs will provide up-to-the-minute learning environments for the exercise science and athletic training programs. These will be used for developing clinical skills and evidenced-based practice and also will support faculty/student research. The equipment will prepare students for careers in patient care, for which they will evaluate the physical performance of individuals with injuries and chronic conditions.

An outdoor, multi-purpose amphitheater will be available for both large and small group discussions and will expand the capacity for problem-based tutorials?. The center also will be available to host professional activities for health-care providers in the community and will be the hub for coordinating community-based programming supported by the colleges, such as global health and service learning activities.

“We can’t wait for our students to get here this fall and to watch them thrive. They are going to be truly amazed by this facility and all it has to offer. There are many exciting opportunities for our nursing students—not only to practice on our state-of-the-art manikins and actors, but to collaborate on cases with students in the other health disciplines,” said Mary Alice Donius, dean of the College of Nursing. “This will ensure that students in all the disciplines will be prepared for the kind of interactions they will experience when they begin to work in professional health-care settings.”

The College of Nursing includes 1,400 students in undergraduate, graduate and online programming and 37 full-time faculty members. The college offers bachelor’s degree programs, master’s degree programs and a post-master doctoral degree in nursing practice. SHU’s nursing program was ranked fourth in Connecticut by the online nursing service,, because of SHU graduates’ high pass rates on the National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nursing (NCLEX-RN), a standardized test candidates must pass to practice nursing.

For more information on the Center for Healthcare Education, visit