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$5.5 Million Charitable Gift Creates Cutting-Edge Nursing School Simulation Center in Florida

Gayle Morris, BSN, MSN
Updated June 6, 2023
    The Helene Fuld Health Trust gift to UCF for a nursing school simulation lab is anticipated to significantly impact the nursing shortage in Florida.
    I-4 along the Orlando, Florida skyline during the dayCredit: Getty Images

    On May 18, the University of Central Florida (UCF) College of Nursing announced it had received a $5.5 million gift. The nursing center gift would be used to create a nursing school simulation center located at the College of Nursing’s new education and teaching facility located on UCF’s 50-acre Academic Health Sciences Campus at Lake Nona.

    The gift was made by the Helene Fuld Health Trust, a large philanthropic organization dedicated exclusively to nursing students and nursing education.

    School leaders consider the new 12,000-square-foot Helene Fuld Health Trust Simulation, Technology, Innovation, and Modeling (STIM) Center an investment in Florida’s future nursing workforce, and is anticipated to be a centerpiece of the new UCF College of Nursing facility, scheduled to open for the 2025-26 school year.

    “We are extremely grateful to the Helene Fuld Health Trust for their continued support,” said UCF College of Nursing Dean Mary Lou Sole in a statement. “With this generous new gift, UCF will build upon our strong leadership in simulation education, innovation and research and continue to grow a Knight nurse workforce to provide skilled, compassionate care in Central Florida and beyond.”

    A simulation lab bridges the gap between what nursing students learn in a skills lab and the theory they learn in the classroom. Nursing students can apply newly acquired skills in mock scenarios using high-tech anatomically correct simulator manikins. The center is designed to help prepare nurses for real-world practice by providing safe and dynamic simulated environments where students can assess a patient’s physical status, make an initial diagnosis, and implement clinical interventions.

    UCF nursing school announced in 2020 that the STIM Center received accreditation from the Society for Simulation in Healthcare and the Council for Accreditation of Healthcare Simulation. They also earned the Healthcare Simulation Standards Endorsement from the International Nursing Association for Clinical Simulation and Learning, one of only nine programs worldwide to earn this international endorsement.

    “The Helene Fuld Health Trust Simulation, Technology, Innovation and Modeling (STIM) Center at UCF exemplifies our mission to support the education of nursing students,” said Robert Campbell, vice president of Trust & Fiduciary Services at HSBC, who oversees the trust, in a statement. “Simulation is a critical component to nursing education and will continue to be in the future, and we’re proud to make this investment to strengthen nursing skills and improve the welfare of our communities.”

    The nursing center gift of the new STIM Center will house advanced nursing school technology, including a virtual hospital and clinical skills exam suite that the school anticipates will be heavily used by students.

    Inside the virtual hospital, students will have access to flexible simulation rooms, virtual reality rooms, and areas for pre-briefing and debriefing. The clinical skills exam suite will be fully prepared with diagnostic tools and audio-visual recording systems, which will record the students participating in training for debriefing at a later time.

    The new College of Nursing campus is anticipated to cost $68.78 million. The College Board of Trustees has announced the project’s final funding package would be considered during their June meeting. The package includes philanthropic funds, like those from the Helene Fuld Health Trust and state and federal sources. The school anticipates that construction could begin by the end of 2023 with a target date of completion of fall 2025.

    The Florida Hospital Association has projected a statewide shortage of 59,100 nurses by 2035. The additional 90,000 square feet of teaching space in the new College of Nursing facility will double the current college’s footprint and allow the program to admit nearly double the students, from 260 to 520 each year.

    The Helene Fuld Health Trust was incorporated in 1935 and funded by Dr. Leonhard Fuld and his sister, Florentine, in honor of the memory of their mother, who died in 1923. The assets of the trust grew from $4.8 million in 1952 to more than $35 million in 1965. In 1961, the assets of the foundation were turned over to a charitable trust whose primary mission is to support and promote the education, welfare, and health of student nurses.