Max Samson/Art Director

As Binghamton University’s Health Sciences Campus is constructed in Johnson City, nursing students can expect to see major changes in how the school’s system is structured.

The Decker School of Nursing will be transforming into the Decker College of Nursing and Health Sciences once it moves into the new campus, expected later next year. Within the college, two new graduate schools will be formed: The School of Applied Sciences and the School of Rehabilitation Sciences.

Since 2016, with the hire of Mario Ortiz as dean of Decker College, there have been movements to enlarge the college through more academic concentrations and practices. BU President Harvey Stenger announced the schools will house several new graduate programs in his 2019 State of the University address on Thursday.

“For 30 years, the school has carried the Decker [School of Nursing] name in recognition of the support provided by the Decker Foundation for our nursing program,” Stenger said. “However, its growing educational and research programs now transcend the field of nursing to include in-demand programs in speech, occupational and physical therapy.”

According to Patti Reuther, director of the Innovative Simulation and Practice Center (ISPC), the new programs are anticipated to be implemented late next year in the renovated Ford Family Wellness Center in Johnson City.

Decker College has already begun hiring the founding chairs of the new schools, starting with Michael Buck, who was hired in July 2019 as the founding chair for physical therapy. The search for the two other founding chairs for the occupational therapy and speech-language programs is currently underway, according to Reuther.

Reuther is in charge of the new ISPC, where students use practice exam rooms with audio and video equipment to practice and critique scenarios of health care situations and provide students with a hands-on simulation experience. According to Reuther, the expansion of the ISPC will greatly benefit not only students, but also the community.

“The new building will expand the simulation and practice space significantly,” Reuther wrote in an email. “We will be able to offer simulation and practice experiences for our current nursing students, the new programs, as well as our health care community partners like Upstate [University Hospital], Lourdes [Hospital], UHS [United Health Services] and Guthrie. Our new programs will offer opportunities for interprofessional simulations and practice, as well as safe, structured and focused training to support the best healthcare for our community members.”

According to Lia Magnani, an ISPC employee and a senior majoring in nursing, junior nursing students actively participate with the simulation labs. Magnani said she is upset she will not get to experience the change, but is excited for the future of the Decker School of Nursing.

“I have learned how valuable simulation can be for a new nurse,” Magnani wrote in an email. “Simulation can help you practice your skills, allow you to critically think about which assessments to perform and give you confidence in speaking to patients. Younger students will have more opportunities for simulation which will benefit their learning.”

Although the new ISPC expansion will directly affect undergraduate students, the two new schools are for graduate use, according to Margaret White, director of undergraduate programs for Decker College and a clinical assistant professor of nursing.

“This will not directly affect nursing students in the undergraduate program,” White wrote in an email. “Our core program will remain the same. However there will be some wonderful indirect benefits for them — opportunities to participate in health care research, opportunities for collaboration with a variety of health care providers, an enhanced reputation that will attract [high-quality] students and faculty in these fields to [BU].”

Amanda Sarubbi, a junior majoring in nursing, said she is excited for the implementation of the two new schools.

“I would say that one cool thing it could bring to Decker [School of Nursing] is that we get different perspectives because in the health care field you are working with people from all different fields of health care,” Sarubbi said. “I’m not sure how it’s going to affect us, but it could end up being an attribute to have those tools that are available to us as resources. Generally, most of us are really excited about Decker getting bigger and better, because we’re such a small school and there’s so few of us.”