Amid growing demands for high-quality nursing care, the recently opened Union Square Campus in Greensboro, N.C., is using the latest technologies and an emphasis on teamwork to train student and practicing nurses.

The $34 million campus, completed in August, offers state-of-the-art training tools such as high-fidelity simulation mannequins.   

"They have vital signs," says Jean Reinert, R.N., director of education and training at Cone Health, a partner in Union Square Campus. "You can do almost anything you can do on a real patient."

The mission of Union Square Campus is to address the growing need for nurses at all levels and promote collaborative practices between nurses and other health professionals. Partners have created a state-of-the-art setting that will educate nurses from the associate (two-year) level through the bachelor-(four-year) and doctoral-degree level.

"The Affordable Care Act requires health care to be accountable for patients across the health care continuum," Reinert says. "We're training nurses at all levels." 

At the same time, Reinert says, research shows that nurses with advanced degrees provide better patient care. "So there is a push to have more BSN [bachelor of science in nursing] nurses at the bedside. We need more nurses as we move into the 2020s, and this is a way to grow more nurses with higher skill levels."

Julie Henry, vice president of communications for the North Carolina Hospital Association, says Union Square Campus represents a "great example of looking ahead to what the needs are going to be and creating an environment where we can offer that kind of training to get people the skills they need to meet the change in our industry."

Reinert says student nurses and practicing nurses will work side by side at Union Square Campus, enabling the student nurses to "see the real nurses doing what they do in real practice. Both of them will work in a very advanced environment to learn new skills and new work structures."

Union Square Campus will include a simulated home environment, simulated outpatient area and simulated acute area with hospital beds, operating rooms and intensive care units, Reinert says. 

Reinert would like to see Union Square Campus eventually bring together a multidisciplinary team that could include physicians, medical students, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, occupational therapists and physical therapists. This would create a training environment in which health professionals from different disciplines "work together in the same environment, the way we would in the real world."

Other partners in Union Square Campus include Guilford Technical Community College, North Carolina A&T State University and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Henry says Union Square Campus also is an "investment in the entire community — not just in the building, but in thinking about the needs of the future, creating jobs for citizens and creating care for the community. It's incumbent on us as hospitals and health systems to look for those kinds of partnership opportunities and be part of creating that vision in our communities."