Crowded conditions frustrate students at UNMC College of Nursing in Lincoln

Crowded conditions at UNMC's College of Nursing in Lincoln make it difficult for students training to become Nebraska's sorely needed next generation of nurses

Nicole deWit prefers to hone her nursing skills inside the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s simulation lab, but, all too often, must watch the instruction on a nearby television.

The senior nursing student at the College of Nursing, Lincoln division becomes frustrated when she must wait to get into a simulation lab for training exercises. And she’s stressed when she and five of her classmates pack themselves into the overcrowded room much too small for its intended purpose.

But, the worst part is that these six are the only ones who get to undergo the exercises. The rest of their classmates can only watch the live broadcast from their seats in the classroom.

“We are that crowded,” Diane Brage Hudson, Ph.D., assistant dean, CON-Lincoln, said of the facility that used to be a downtown department store.

Crowded conditions at UNMC’s College of Nursing in Lincoln make it difficult for students training to become Nebraska’s sorely needed next generation of nurses.

There are days when deWit tries to arrive early, in order to print out notes, but the computer lab is full. Frustrated, she heads upstairs for lecture, but has to navigate hallways clogged with students sitting on the floor.

At times, “I step over numerous pairs of legs to get into the classroom,” she said.

And then there is the frustration with the simulation lab – a key component to nursing education.

On Feb. 2, deWit testified before the Nebraska Legislature. She spoke in support of LB 1065. As part of the University of Nebraska’s “Building a Healthier Nebraska” initiative, the bill backs a proposed $17 million facility for the Lincoln College of Nursing on UNL’s East Campus.

A new Lincoln facility has been the University of Nebraska’s highest priority capital request since 2008 and would ease a statewide shortage of nurses that, by 2020, will reach 4,000.

Not only will the new facility help educate nurses who provide direct service to Nebraskans, but it also will educate the nursing instructors who are critical to closing the nursing gap.

Now, up to 60 percent of qualified applicants to UNMC nursing programs in Lincoln and Kearney are turned away due to lack of space and lack of instructors.

Why should Nebraskans care?

“You start to have safety concerns when you’re stretched to the limit and caring for too many patients,” Dr. Brage Hudson said.

Instead of coming to school to study or meet with peers, deWit said many students prefer to remain off campus as much as possible.

Teachers and researchers have a tough time working in this environment, too, Dr. Brage Hudson said.

The proposed project would provide additional space for teaching, research and increased enrollment to help address the state’s growing nursing shortage.

Crowded conditions are part of life at UNMC’s College of Nursing in Lincoln. Not every day – but far too often for students like deWit: “These very conditions create an environment that students want to escape.”

View a one-and-a-half minute video featuring Juliann Sebastian, Ph.D., dean of the UNMC College of Nursing, talking about why the nursing projects are needed, go to: http://youtu.be/xABoj1zcfwU

TV stations can download the video file (64.4 MB) for the next 14 days. (It will be removed after Monday, March 5).


Through world-class research and patient care, UNMC generates breakthroughs that make life better for people throughout Nebraska and beyond. Its education programs train more health professionals than any other institution in the state. Learn more at unmc.edu.


Vicky Cerino
UNMC Public Relations
(402) 559-5190