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UCF Begins Work on $68 Million Nursing School Pavilion in Florida

Gayle Morris, BSN, MSN
Updated February 5, 2024
Edited by
    The UCF College of Nursing has broken ground on a state-of-the-art nursing pavilion to help address the nursing shortage.
    Computer generated image of new school
    • The University of Central Florida has broken ground on a $68 million building designed to help graduate 150 more students each year.
    • The project was made possible by grants from the state of Florida, Dr. Phillips Charities, Helene Fuld Health Trust, Advent Health, and Orlando Health.
    • The Dr. Phillips Nursing Pavilion is slated to open in late 2025 for the first cohort of nursing students to use the state-of-the-art Simulation, Technology, Innovation, and Modeling (STIM) Center.

    On January 12, the University of Central Florida (UCF) broke ground on a $68 million project, the Dr. Phillips Nursing Pavilion, slated to open in the fall of 2025. The UCF College of Nursing anticipates that the new pavilion will enable them to graduate 150 additional nurses each year.

    The dean of UCF’s College of Nursing, Dr. Mary Lou Sole, commented that the pavilion also offers the opportunity to expand even further in the future. “I feel absolutely amazing and fantastic to get to this part of our journey,” she said.

    “A building is a space where you’re able to do what you need to do. For the UCF College of Nursing, it will be a venue where great thinkers live, future nurses learn, and innovators and scholars work together to solve our world’s most pressing healthcare problems,” said Sole. “In this building, the Dr. Phillips Nursing Pavilion, UCF will unleash potential that will have an immeasurable impact for generations to come.”

    UCF Nursing: A Transformative Moment

    The project was made possible by a $43.7 million commitment from the State of Florida, alongside a $10 million grant from Dr. Phillips Charities, $5.5 million from the Helene Fuld Health Trust, and $5 million each from Advent Health and Orlando Health.

    The pavilion is named in honor of Dr. Phillips Charities — the organization that provided the initial gift for the project, prompting many other philanthropic donations. Dr. Phillips Charities comprises Dr. Phillips, Inc. and The Dr. P. Phillips Foundation. The Dr. Phillips name was once synonymous with citrus products in the first half of the 20th century. The organization began donations to health and rehabilitation in the 1950s, which now totals over $33.9 million.

    The bulk of the financing for the pavilion came from the state of Florida, which was championed by former Senate President Wilton Simpson. The Helene Fuld Health Trust has a long history of supporting the nursing profession and was proud to invest in UCF’s STIM Center.

    “Simulation is a critical component to strengthening students’ nursing skills, preparing them to provide the best care for patients, and improving the health and welfare of our communities,” said Robert Campbell, vice president of Trust & Fiduciary Services at HSBC, which oversees the Trust.

    The Tavistock Group donated $12.5 million in October 2005 which enabled UCF to purchase 50 acres of land where it established the College of Medicine. The Dr. Phillips Nursing Pavilion will be located next door to the medical center, which is now called Medical City in Lake Nona, Florida.

    “UCF has a bold vision to scale our nationally ranked College of Nursing to provide the highest quality healthcare education to graduate more nurses, who are desperately needed in Florida,” said UCF President Alexander N. Cartwright. “The UCF College of Nursing’s Dr. Phillips Nursing Pavilion is a state-of-the-art space that will enable us to reshape the next generation of healthcare and create a healthier, brighter future for our entire state through education and innovation.”

    A virtual tour of the 90,000-square-foot Dr. Phillips Nursing Pavilion showcases a Simulation, Technology, Innovation, and Modeling Center with three times the space of the current nursing building. Dr. Sole described the UCF nursing pavilion to Nurse Journal. She shared that it includes a home health apartment so nursing students can practice in a real-world environment, a maker’s space design studio for students and faculty to help solve healthcare challenges, and a wet lab and freezer storage.

    The building also includes other research labs, an outdoor veranda, a study café, and more. Dr. Sole provided more details about how the state-of-the-art facility will help prepare nursing students, including how the nursing program is planning to provide areas to support nursing student’s mental health.

    “Learning and meeting spaces will be equipped with the latest in technology, and classrooms will feature innovative active learning designs to facilitate collaboration and discussion. Large windows throughout will bring in natural light and nature views to create an educational setting that has been shown to reduce stress and improve mental health. There will also be dedicated spaces for students to not only study but also to rest, relax, and practice self-care, which is critically important for their mental health and success in clinical practice.”

    Tackling Florida’s Nurse Shortage

    Florida’s healthcare system faces a critical nursing shortage. According to the 2021 Florida Hospital Association analysis, there will be a 59,000 nurse shortage by 2035.

    The nurse-to-state population ratio for Florida is 8.88 nurses for every 1,000 people, which is lower than the U.S. average of 9.22. Georgia is slightly lower with 7.6 nurses per 1,000, but Alabama and Mississippi are slightly higher. The unique challenge for Florida is the percentage of the population that is over 65.

    Data from the Census Bureau shows that only Maine has a higher population of individuals older than 65 at 21.8%, while Florida has 21.3%. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 78% of people 55 years and older have at least one chronic condition and 47% have two.

    The higher number of individuals with chronic conditions in Florida places an extra burden on the healthcare system. According to data from the University of Central Florida, of the more than 16,000 alumni from the nursing school, more than 85% continue to live and work in Florida, and roughly 60% have stayed in Central Florida.

    UCF’s ability to increase the number of nursing graduates with the addition of the Dr. Phillips Nurse Pavilion will help to address the nursing shortage in Florida. UCF College of Nursing has taken a bold step to improve the nurse shortage while increasing the exposure of nursing students to technological advancements they will encounter in their nursing practice.

    “UCF is also focused on increasing admissions to our graduate-level degree programs to positively impact the health of our communities. With an aging workforce, there is a need for nurses at all levels. Our communities need more nurse researchers to continue to build evidence for evidence-based practice, and more nurse leaders to guide healthcare into the future.”

    Meet Our Contributor

    Portrait of Mary Lou Sole, Ph.D., RN, CCNS, CNL, FAAN, FCCM

    Mary Lou Sole, Ph.D., RN, CCNS, CNL, FAAN, FCCM

    Mary Lou Sole has focused her research over the past three decades on preventing complications and improving outcomes of critically ill patients who are placed on a ventilator. Her work, which has been awarded more than $4 million in funding to date, has been published in more than 100 peer-reviewed publications and presented at conferences throughout the world and has influenced the standard of nursing care in the U.S. and in the international critical care community. Sole serves as dean of the UCF College of Nursing and holds the Orlando Health Endowed Chair in Nursing. Using simulation and technology, she has created innovative strategies to improve student learning in the clinical setting and the classroom. She serves on several journal editorial boards, has served on expert panels of the National Institutes of Health and chaired the Nursing and Related Clinical Sciences Study Section of the NIH Center for Scientific Review from 2015 to 2017. Sole has been honored with numerous awards, including being named a UCF Pegasus Professor in 2008, the university’s highest faculty honor.