December 15, 2022 | Matt Kucinski

A group of 13 women stand near a pop-up sign for the School of Health.
The new School of Health blueprints pull many health-related disciplines together in close physical proximity.

There are few areas where having everyone on the same page has higher stakes than health care.

“Collaborating across disciplines in the field is essential to caring well for patients,” said Adejoke Ayoola, dean of Calvin University's School of Health.

Client-and family-centered care has become so important in the health field, but this model only works if those professionals are talking to one another and have a comprehensive understanding of the field.

“We need more nurses, speech pathologists, healthcare professionals, who are not only well equipped to provide excellent care in their areas, but who have a general understanding of how to work with professionals in other disciplines in providing holistic care for their patients,” said Ayoola.

That’s where the new blueprint for Calvin University’s School of Health is so important. The new school, established in 2021 thanks to a generous $15 million gift, brings many health-related disciplines, including nursing, pre-health sciences, kinesiology, public health, speech pathology, and audiology under the auspices of the school. The new blueprints, pull those together in close physical proximity.

The renovation to North Hall, where most of the School of Health will be located, will begin yet this year, with the speech pathology and audiology offices and clinic moving into the space by Calvin’s spring break. Over the next two years, other phases of the plan call for renovated classrooms, more simulation labs, an expanded exercise science lab, a new cadaver lab, other new lab spaces, and a newly constructed grand entrance and atrium space.

Keila Pieters, a senior nursing major, is excited about the possibilities ahead given the change in program proximity.

“As students, we are excited to collaborate with our fellow students from related disciplines.To be in the same space will provide us greater opportunities to connect and learn from one another,” said Pieters.

Kerrie Berends, co-chair of the kinesiology department, said opportunities are being identified even during this transition period.

“We are discovering things as we have been discussing how we can work together across disciplines,” said Berends. “For example, the nursing department wasn’t aware that we had some advanced equipment in our exercise science lab, which will provide excellent opportunities when our nursing students study pulmonary function.”

“We are brainstorming how we can work together, planning events for how our nursing, kinesiology, and speech pathology students can all come together and offer our services together, do health screening in the community together,” said Ayoola.

As a part of the nursing faculty for more than a decade, Ayoola and her colleagues, like Gail Zandee, have been invested in the healthcare of neighborhoods in Grand Rapids. They have established trusted partnerships and are excited for how this new school will help them equip students better to care well for their neighbors and future patients.

“One of the things we are interested in is interprofessional education, to all work together as professionals, because our focus is the patient,” said Ayoola. “We can actually design holistic programs that will involve all of our students and meet the need of our community.”

While students in the School of Health will remain committed to going out into their communities to assess and help meet the healthcare needs, the new physical spaces on campus are also being designed in such a way as to help the on-campus spaces to be more accessible to the community, including the construction of a new entrance to the School of Health on the west-side of North Hall that will feature a 2-story atrium hub space that will be the final phase of the new school to be completed by fall 2025.

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