Spring 2021

Building the future of health

See inside the U’s state-of-the-art Health Sciences Education Center

More than 70% of Minnesota’s doctors, nurses, dentists, physical therapists, pharmacists, and veterinarians have trained at the University of Minnesota. With the majority of care practitioners in the state perfecting their craft at the U, it’s not a stretch to say that the health and wellness of Minnesota tomorrow starts on campus today.

That’s why the next generation of health care professionals needs a next-generation education, says Jakub Tolar, M.D., Ph.D., dean of the U of M Medical School and vice president for clinical affairs.

“By preparing ourselves and our students for the future, we will have a significant impact on our state and our communities,” he says.

That preparation is now happening in a space fit for the future of health care. In 2020, the U opened a state-of-the-art learning hub known as the Health Sciences Education Center (HSEC) on the Twin Cities campus.

To find out how your gift can support the HSEC, contact Carrie Albers of the University of Minnesota Foundation at 612-626-8481 or albersc@umn.edu.

The 200,000-square-foot facility is designed to promote interprofessional interaction and teamwork among students and faculty from different fields.

“Health care requires different professions coming together to work in close collaboration, using new strategies and new technologies,” says Jeannine Conway, Pharm.D., associate dean for professional education in the U’s College of Pharmacy and a member of the HSEC leadership team. “Preparing for that world requires new ways of teaching and learning. This building is specially designed to transform health education by moving from the lecture hall to active, team-based learning.”

Take a look inside.



Maker’s space

A 3D-printing station allows students and faculty to convert two-dimensional images—like an MRI, for example—into a 3D model that can be held, examined, and used in practice procedures.


Protection preparation

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, some of HSEC’s more than 20 simulation rooms were used to train 1,600 medical and nursing students to properly put on and take off personal protective equipment, allowing them to quickly—and safely—return to clinical environments.


Reflection and inspiration

HSEC’s seventh floor is all about student wellness. The sunlit space includes a lounge area that encourages students to study, eat, and hang out together, as well as a “well-being studio” where students come to de-stress through relaxation, meditation, prayer, or yoga.


Surgical simulation

HSEC’s simulation program, called M Simulation, includes two full operating rooms, including the House Family Surgical Suite. These interactive spaces allow learners from across disciplines to team up in an operating room setting to creatively solve problems, just as they will in hospitals someday.


Ditching the lecture

Gone are the days of large lecture halls and the “sage on the stage” way of teaching. HSEC’s classrooms are strategically designed for collaboration, conversation, hands-on activities, and small-group learning.


Virtual reality

Today 94% of the Health Sciences Library’s print collection is in storage. In its place are next-generation resources, including an enclave dedicated to virtual reality. Physical therapy students use the technology to hone exercises, while public health students have practiced their response to virtual natural disasters.


Old school

Toting around a dog-eared anatomy textbook might be a thing of the past for today’s students, but HSEC hasn’t abandoned printed materials entirely. The Wangensteen Historical Library includes 73,000 print resources—including rare books, manuscripts, and medical and scientific journals—that explore the history of health, medicine, and biological sciences from 1430 to 1945.