School of Nursing and Health Studies builds for future

Over the past year, the School of Nursing and Health Studies has enjoyed two welcome changes: a change of venue and a change of name.

Construction has been under way since last year for the M. Christine Schwartz Center for Nursing and Health Studies, a new facility on the Coral Gables campus that will house the growing School.

The four-story, 53,000 square-foot building, scheduled to open in Spring 2006, will feature clinical practice labs; seminar and conference rooms; and three high-technology “smart” classrooms linked together to created a 280-seat “cyber auditorium.” The new facility will also include a simulation center, complete with a computer microsimulation lab and a simulation suite with computerized patient simulators to enact real-life clinical scenarios.

The Schwartz Center will also house a Center for Pediatric Safety and Research and a Center for Aging and End-of-Life Care.

The $19.4 million-dollar facility, funded by numerous donors, will be named for M. Christine Schwartz, a nurse whose husband, Ted, a Chicago businessman, made a $5 million gift to the School in honor of their wedding anniversary.

In February of this year, the School also announced an expansion to include the University’s Health Studies program, formerly a part of the College of Arts and Sciences.

“This expansion positions our School to educate the next generation of leaders in a variety of health care fields,” said Dr. Nilda Peragallo, dean of the School, said at the time in a statement.

University President and former Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna E. Shalala agreed.

“Integrating the nursing and health science programs mirrors a growing national trend at nursing schools,” Shalala said in the same statement.

Industry developments show that health care professionals will be in high demand in upcoming years. According to the 2004 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, one million new nurses will be needed in the U.S. by 2010, and the state of Florida alone will face an estimated shortage of 55,000 nurses. According to the 2002 Nursing Shortage Consortium South Florida, one in four nurse educators in Florida are projected to retire soon.

Amy S. Lawrence contributed to this article.

Patricia Mazzei can be contacted at