Editors note: This story has been updated to add additional information about the Sugar Land campus, including features and enrollment numbers.

The University of Houston’s Andy and Barbara Gessner College of Nursing received a prestigious accreditation in December for its nursing simulators in Katy and Sugar Land.

What it means

The HCA Houston Healthcare Nursing Simulation Center located at UH at Katy and the Methodist Sugar Land Hospital Nursing Simulation Center at UH at Sugar Land are the first and only Greater Houston college facilities to receive this accreditation from the Society for Simulation in Healthcare, said Kathryn Tart, dean of the college of nursing.

“Faced with a nursing shortage, our state-of-the-art simulation centers help us educate more nurses where clinical excellence and leadership are central," Tart said in a university news release. "We are grateful for our health care partners who have invested in our college and in the future of nursing. Their support has positioned us to achieve this accreditation.”

According to the release, to receive this accreditation, organizations are evaluated on:
  • Ethics
  • Field expansion
  • Human resources
  • Mission and governance
  • Program and resource management
  • Program involvement
With the accreditation, the two UH centers are named among the top educational facilities where medical students and professionals can practice performing health care scenarios, according to the Society for Simulation in Healthcare website. The accreditation for both facilities will last five years.

The features

The centers feature technology that allow students to practice techniques learned in lecture before heading to local hospitals for clinicals, Tart said in an interview with Community Impact.

The Katy facility mirrors areas students will see in the hospitals they practice, including:
  • Four high fidelity simulations rooms with life-like mannequins
  • Two bays with 10 beds each
  • Eight assessment rooms
  • Medication room
  • Debriefing room
Additionally, the Sugar Land facility has:
  • Two bays with 10 beds each
  • Four assessment rooms
  • A practice room with four beds
  • A multipurpose room with one bed
Tart said students are able to refine skills including head-to-toe assessments, pediatric care, and birth and death simulations, due to the expansiveness of the facility.

About the program

The Andy and Barbara Gessner College of Nursing instructional site at Katy opened in fall 2019, bringing its first cohort of 16 students. Since its inception, the Katy program has grown to have 116 students this spring semester.
Tart said she would like to see the program grow to 240 students at the Katy location.

Meanwhile, the Sugar Land campus offers a different track, which allows students with a bachelor's or master's degree in another field to become registered nurses. The program typically aims to enroll 70 students each semester, Tart said.