In many ways, the stately white marble buildings around the HMS quadrangle appear largely unchanged from when they were first erected in 1906. But visitors can now walk into one of them—the Tosteson Medical Education Center—and be transported into the 21st century.
The new Clinical Skills Center has materialized in a ground floor wing of the TMEC building, its gleaming halls stretching beyond etched glass doors emblazoned with the lion rampant from the HMS shield. The transformation began in February 2012, with the selection of the space; a committee approved plans in a mere six months, and construction on the $5 million facility began in February 2013.
“This new center will go a long way to advancing the educational experience of all our students,” says Jules Dienstag, the Carl W. Walter Professor of Medicine and HMS dean for medical education. “It’s the result of a tremendous collaborative effort and a credit to everyone who worked so diligently to make it a reality.”
“We didn’t want it to look too clinical,” adds Jane Neill, the HMS associate dean for medical education planning and administration. “We worked with the architects to make it flow, given the constraints of the building.” Neill was a driving force behind the new 7,500-square-foot facility. The center will be used for both teaching and assessing clinical communication and physical exam skills, and it will be the site in which students take their Objective Structured Clinical Exams. Faculty will also use the center to develop clinical teaching skills.
The space features 18 clinical exam rooms, including 10 with retractable walls, and a central room housing monitors and controls for 47 cameras used for observation and videotaping during exams and classes. Wireless simulation mannequins are stacked neatly in closets near exam rooms; students can check patients’ records at computer-equipped kiosks nearby.
“One of the wonderful things about this space is that we’ve tried to be respectful of the history and the historical events that have occurred in this building,” says Neill, who points out that along with all the technology that has been incorporated into the center’s design, the halls are also graced with artwork, photographs, and medical objects on loan from the Center for the History of Medicine at the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.
“This renovation is a terrific example of what you can do with an old building,” says Rick Shea, HMS associate dean for campus planning and facilities. “It shows that it is possible to breathe new spirit into existing, historic structures, and to extend their usefulness into a new century.”