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Mar 21, 2013 - By Steven R. Peck

As CWC's Health/Science Center takes shape, its huge potential emerges as well

One of the great buildings ever constructed in Fremont County is taking shape at Central Wyoming College, as the new Health/Science Center moves toward completion in a few months.

A sneak preview tour this week showed dramatic advances since a preliminary walk-through late last summer. The identity of the facility is now beginning to emerge.

The technical details are spectacular, with college leaders particularly proud of a new scientific simulation laboratory that brings enormous promise in the fields of student training, research, diagnostics and treatment, competency assessment, and professional development.

For example, there can be real advantages of determining a good deal of the proficiency of a nursing student by using a state-of-the art simulator rather than a live patient. Nothing beats the human-to-human experience in practice, but in training the simulator can expose students to a much wider variety of medical situations than a hospital or clinic ever could. The trial and error that is possible through simulation is safer and more instructive.

Recent advances have made the simulation process incredibly realistic, just as similar technology has been used in training aircraft pilots, heavy equipment operators and military units.

If you can learn most of what you need to know about flying an airplane with a high-tech simulator, where a crash can be remedied by hitting the "reset" button, then you also can learn a lot about stitching up a wound or treating a burn without risk of doing damage to a real patient while you are learning the ropes.

No one likes talking about medical errors, but they are a very real concern in the health care professions. Simulation in training is a proven ally in reducing errors in health care.

Soon a facility offering the best simulation technology in the region will be in place -- not at a big hospital in a metropolitan area or at a major medical school, but in the new Health/Science Center at Central Wyoming College.

The simulation lab was just one of many fine features of the new facility that tour leaders were showing off. Classroom facilities are miles ahead of the ones in use now in terms of space, atmosphere, equipment and access. Better science and nursing graduates are a certainty once the new center is operational. Top applicants will turn to CWC in greater numbers, and they will command better jobs and salaries when they graduate.

Aside from the technical achievements promised by the facility, it has been designed and is being built with a much appreciated eye on aesthetics. This is not being slapped together from cinderblocks and sheet metal. It has many architectural features that are sure to make it a highly prized campus destination even for students not enrolled in technical classes. It will have ample public spaces, creative use of light and landscaping, an auditorium with eye-catching art, and an atrium intended to provide an uplifting feeling to all who enter. The second-floor study area is bound to be a top student hangout.

Central Wyoming College is not a university, but it is building a university-caliber center for health and science education, continuing a nearly 50-year pattern of ambitious growth and improvement not just for the campus, but for the community.

The first two tours have been exciting. We can hardly wait for the next one, because that will mean the new facility is open for business -- and everyone can marvel at it.