NOTICE: Classes canceled today due to weather conditions. Check Blackboard for communication from your instructors.

SBU hosts grand opening of nursing training center

The Mercy College of Nursing and Health Sciences of Southwest Baptist University christened its Nursing Training Center with a grand opening ceremony on Tuesday, Sept. 20, at 1265 E. Lark St., in Springfield.

Visitors were treated to tours of the 15,000-square-foot state-of-the-art training facility upon arrival and after the presentation.

SBU President Dr. C. Pat Taylor welcomed the group of 160 attendees – which included faculty, staff, trustees, architects and the Springfield Chamber of Commerce – and praised the partnership between SBU and Mercy Health System, which formed in 1996.“We are thankful for the great relationship we have with Mercy Hospital that makes this partnership possible,” Taylor said. “We have been working with Mercy for the past 20 years, and are pleased at the growth and success of our nursing program within this structure. We are looking forward to continuing expansion and continuing the relationship with Mercy Hospital for many years to come.”

The training center, which held a few courses in the summer, welcomed students for the 2016 fall semester.

A few of the center’s features include:

  • Learning Resource Center
  • Simulation lab
  • Nursing stations
  • Task training room
  • 50-seat classroom

These features, and more, allow students to experience life-like simulations and practice their skills.

Jonathan Foley, a current nursing student and SBU Ambassador, said, “The only disappointment that I have is that I don’t have more time here,” referring to the training that nursing and health sciences students receive at the facility. Foley will graduate in December with his associate of science in nursing degree and then with his bachelor of science in nursing degree in May 2017 before heading to Kansas City to work in Children’s Mercy Pediatric ICU.

“I’m extremely excited to have the opportunity to practice my skills in such an incredible learning facility,” Foley said. “I didn’t really know what to expect my first time coming in here, but I was awestruck when I saw what this place offered to us students. The life-like scenarios that we’re able to experience will help prepare us to become outstanding healthcare professionals.

“This campus is going to be impacting students for years to come, and I see this as a stepping stone for this program that’s going to be leading to bigger and better things. I’m excited to see all of the other students that are going to be able to come here and use this facility. I’m excited to see the nurses that we’re going to be producing.”

Dr. Sylvia Barber, associate professor in the ASN program and simulation coordinator, became emotional when looking back at the early discussions for the training center.

“I once read that our lives are made up of different journeys,” Barber said. “And the journey for us, in regards to this building, began two years ago when Dr. Bob McGlasson and Dr. Kezia Lilly (dean of the college) asked Cindy Reed (LRC coordinator) and I for our ideas for a new simulation lab and LRC on paper. They didn’t have to ask us twice. We went right to work. … GHN (Architects and Engineers) turned this building into a state-of-the-art center for nursing education.

“This facility will assist students on the pathway of completing their journey of becoming a registered nurse, and I’m so thrilled to be a part of it.”

Lisa Person, Mercy’s Chief Nursing Officer, also celebrated the partnership between Mercy and SBU and stressed the importance of the collaboration.

“The importance of this partnership is to elevate the excellence that we provide within the Mercy hospital and within our facilities,” Person said. “The education and training that our nurses receive at that basic level within this college setting, and to be able to transfer that over to the hospital setting, really enhances the quality of care that we deliver every day.”

The rooms of the facility are set up to simulate the hospital setting, the pediatric setting and the home health setting, which includes a battery-powered cat that actually meows during simulation.

“They’ve thought of everything here, of what our nurses will face in the real world,” Person said.  

Matt Morrow, president of the Springfield Chamber of Commerce and a 1995 SBU graduate, was impressed with the project.

“I have to say that this (partnership) is the perfect example and microcosm – our largest employer (Mercy) and Southwest Baptist University,” Morrow said. “I remember when this was the DirectBuy building and even at its peak of showroom space, it never looked this good.”

McGlasson, vice president for operations at Mercy/SBU and associate provost, said, “We were told what (faculty) wanted, and I think we captured it.”

He then delivered the dedicatory prayer and asked that the building be dedicated to the glory of God, and for God to bless the faculty and staff training students to be ministers and servant leaders in a global society.

Taylor, who got an assist with the ribbon cutting from Lilly’s daughter, Sophia, and Morrow, encouraged the faculty and staff to continue to “dream the dream.”

“We’ve only begun.”

For more information on the Mercy College of Nursing and Health Sciences of SBU, contact Charlie Hungerford, director of admissions, at or (417) 820-3272.

PICTURED: (Left to right) Lisa Person, Dr. Sylvia Barber, Jonathan Foley, Dr. Kezia Lilly and Dr. C. Pat Taylor.