Viterbo is Nursing

Silvana Richardson, Dean, Viterbo School of Nursing

Good morning, I, too, would like to thank all of the people who have made this project possible. Great plans lie before us. A magnificent new School of Nursing facility will assure an increasing flow of nurses, dietitians, and health professionals prepared to meet the needs of society. Health care is changing and becoming increasingly complex with sophisticated technology and growing health needs. That requires changes in how we teach and this facility will provide new tools for faculty teaching and new opportunities for student learning.

Let me share with you a couple of examples of what will be possible in the new building that illustrate what professional education is possible:

  1. The client is Noelle and she has just given birth this morning. The birth process was prolonged and her baby needed resuscitation. Noelle is considered a high risk mother as she had developed diabetes during pregnancy. Now she is having a problem with post-partum bleeding. She is worried about her baby’s condition as the infant is being monitored next door in the neonatal intensive care unit. Both mother and infant need close observation. Noelle’s husband is concerned and requests to speak with the hospital chaplain. This situation is being played out not on a clinical unit or in a classroom but in the Clinical Simulation Learning Lab in the new School of Nursing. Noelle is a high fidelity computerized mannequin that comes to life with a heartbeat, blood pressure, lung sounds, labor contractions, and a personality. Her newborn has a lusty cry and vital signs that can be monitored. From a control room, faculty program Noelle so that her vital signs reflect an actual condition and can change as students intervene. Students can be assigned roles as the nurse, physician, dietitian, spouse, or chaplain. They are challenged to recognize changes in the patient’s condition, to share information accurately, to make appropriate decisions, and to take action. In addition to the students caring for Noelle and her infant during the simulation, others can observe directly from an adjacent room or via a live web feed to other classrooms. After the scenario plays out, all the students debrief by discussing what occurred and why they made particular decisions, and by exploring alternative courses of action to improve patient outcomes. The scenarios can be recorded and archived for later study. This cutting edge technology will provide higher quality educational opportunities to help our students “think on their feet” as well as build skills in communication, teamwork, and caring behaviors before they enter the clinical arena.
  2. What is also exciting for us is that we can share this same learning laboratory with our health care partners to refresh and update their clinical skills and to practice skills used in rare emergencies, which are essential in our ever changing health care environment. The videoconferencing capabilities in the new facility will allow us to host educational events for students and community members across the 7 Rivers Region and to be linked not only with our rural health care partners but also with health experts around the globe.
  3. Lastly, beyond creating a new building with the latest technology, we have designed a facility to reflect the Franciscan values of hospitality, contemplation, and the tradition of healing ministry. Artwork that replenishes the soul will grace the interior of the building which will be infused with natural light. An outdoor healing garden and an indoor meditation room will offer spaces for quiet reflection and renewal. An integrative therapies lab will provide a space for health care providers to learn how to incorporate evidence based therapies such as guided imagery, healing touch, massage, aromatherapy, and mindfulness meditation into their practice and their own self-care. This will be a facility that allows us to promote healing of the body, mind, and spirit.


Competence, confidence, and a caring presence are the hallmarks of a Viterbo educated health professional. The women and men who come to Viterbo to prepare for these specialized careers in nursing and dietetics study with dedicated and caring faculty. The curricula are of the highest quality and offer breadth of experience and the opportunity for advanced study and specialization. Imagine what will be possible with the new generation of nurses and dietitians.

The School of Nursing has evolved to reflect the changing needs of our community and our society. We begin a new chapter which promises to be one of continued excellence, following in the footsteps of those who came before. We are leaders in nursing education and, now, we will be prepared to forge new paths into the future.

Thank you.