photos of houston community college simluation center patient room

Designing for Health Sciences Education

Now, more than ever, educating the next generation of nurses, doctors and other health professionals is paramount. The last two decades have seen a tremendous shift in the way students learn, and health sciences has been on the forefront of that shift. Traditional classrooms and textbook courses have given way collaborative, hands-on experiences that expose tomorrow’s health professionals to real-world situations today.

At HDR, we've not only observed this shift in pedagogy over the years, but we've also adapted our practices to it. In this article series, one of our leading health sciences planners, June Hanley, a former teacher herself, details the complexities of the spaces we create and examines both the changes that have taken place and the changes still to come.

June Hanley, planning principal, began her career as a teacher, where she developed her profound interest in approaches to teaching and learning — and the space that supports it. 

Understanding Today’s Challenges

Educational facilities everywhere are seeking to create optimal learning spaces for health sciences, and there are three major underlying themes that must be considered when designing these spaces. This article examines the acceleration of digital learning, generational influences on teachers and students and advances in the understanding of how we learn, as well as a foreword on the evolution of the field of medicine.

Students working on table top modeling computer
photo of University of Utah Neilsen Rehab Hospital garage

Pivoting to the Future of Healthcare

The evolution of healthcare and medicine over the last few decades, as driven by the global landscape, has had a significant impact on health sciences curriculum and what future professionals need to learn. This article considers these ideas and applies them to what that means for the spaces that need to be designed to support this type of learning.

Lecture Halls and Classrooms for the Future

Having covered what the healthcare and health sciences educational landscapes look like, this article focuses on how some of the spaces required for that education, such as lecture halls and classrooms, need to evolve to meet those landscapes. We discuss how institutions need to take a hard look at these spaces and determine what the best options are to provide value to students, as well as the schools themselves.

photo of Charleston Rita Hollings Center
Students practicing on simulation

Planning Considerations for Clinical Skills and Simulation Centers

In today’s hands-on, experiential learning environment, being able to practice concepts they learn is essential in the education of future healthcare professionals. Spaces like simulation suites and clinical skills centres are becoming commonplace in higher education, and this article dissects the operational and design considerations that must be taken into account when implementing these highly complex areas.

Specialty Instruction and Human Anatomy Labs

Aside from traditional classrooms and lecture halls and highly technical simulation suites, the importance of multidisciplinary, mulituse and special use spaces, such as basic instructional labs for science and anatomy, is more important than ever. This article discusses designing these flexible labs as institutions balance growing space and subject needs, as well as varying class sizes and learning methods.

Students collaborating around center table
photo of college of charleston rita holling center student study space

Supporting Student Well-Being

Today, support for student and faculty health and well-being are major goals of most institutions. This is especially true in the health sciences, where the rapid evolution of fields and the increased understanding of the pressures that students and faculty face have led to calls for transforming health sciences education altogether. While student and faculty health and well-being should be a top priority in all spaces within educational facilities, we highlight some key considerations in this article.

Interested in Learning More?

 In June's previous series, Designing for How We Learn, she looks at the design of classrooms, lecture halls, maker spaces, and laboratories through the lens of how people learn.