U-M Medical School plans education expansion

$55 million project will create more room for hands-on learning.

ANN ARBOR — The University of Michigan Medical School will expand its space and technology for training future physicians, with a $55 million project approved by the U-M Board of Regents on Friday.
The project, which will convert and renovate 137,000 square feet of space in the Taubman Health Sciences Library, will allow U-M to better meet the evolving needs of 708 medical students and other health professional students on campus.

The project will create more advanced space to support collaborative learning, studying, and computing for learning and assessment. In addition, existing space for clinical skills training, including a clinical simulation suite, will be greatly expanded to help students develop communication, diagnostic and management skills. The project will enhance opportunities for learning experiences that involve medical students and those from other health professions, such as pharmacy.

The conversion of library space reflects another changing reality of medicine and other health professions: the dramatic rise in the availability of online resources such as electronic medical journals and databases which doctors and students can access from anywhere, at any time.

U-M’s health sciences librarians offer a range of services, and continue to help students, faculty and staff in all of U-M’s health-related schools find and access the information they need. But more and more, the interactions are virtual, or take place outside the library building.

While the project plan calls for a portion of the library’s less frequently used book and journal collection to be moved off-site, a plan is in place to ensure that students and researchers can readily access it.

The project has been planned over the past two years through cooperation among the Medical School, the Taubman Health Sciences Library, the Provost’s Office, the University Architect’s office and U-M health sciences schools that train other health professionals and also use the Taubman library.

In addition to this project, the Medical School has been making other investments in facilities and resources for medical students in recent years, including updated audio/visual, wireless Internet access and lecture-capture systems in lecture halls, instructional spaces and study areas, and upgraded call rooms for medical students in patient-care areas.

“These construction and renovation projects reflect advanced concepts in health professional learning, and demonstrate our commitment to maintaining the excellence of our medical student educational programs,” says Dr. Rajesh Mangrulkar, associate dean for medical student education. “I predict the space will help to create an unmatched learning experience at Michigan.”

Jane Blumenthal, director of the Taubman Health Science Library, notes that the project is in line with her staff’s increased emphasis on immersion in the environments where physicians and other health professionals train and practice, rather than waiting for them to come to the library building.

“Physical books and journals are less important than they once were, though the information they contain, and the ability of librarians to bring knowledge solutions to bear on academic, clinical, and research goals, remains invaluable,” she says. The Taubman specialists work essentially as “outside-the-library librarians” who can help clinicians and researchers via online interactions, or by coming to their classes, labs, clinics and even hospital grand rounds.

The architectural firms of TMP Architects and Ballinger will work with U-M to create a construction schedule and specific designs, based on the input received during recent months. The project will be paid for by Medical School resources.