University of Wisconsin-Madison
Health Sciences Learning Center

Creating a home for interdisciplinary medical learning

Madison, Wisconsin

As the University of Wisconsin began planning the building that would house its medical, nursing, and pharmacy schools, it knew that it would be offering an entirely different learning experience to its students. Instead of the highly competitive, hierarchical atmosphere that medical students traditionally endure in school, the University of Wisconsin wanted to offer a home for interdisciplinary medical learning. A new building on the University of Wisconsin academic medical campus would support an integrated, collaborative approach bringing medical students, nursing students and pharmacy students together to learn in a team-based atmosphere closely replicating the real world of health care delivery.

The first step in the design process was to model that collaborative philosophy beginning with the initial Visioning Workshop for the building. In a half-day session facilitated by Kahler Slater, academics from all disciplines worked with students, staff, alumni and the community to create a shared vision for an interdisciplinary learning center that would create a welcoming home for team-based learning. The resulting building combines a permanent home for medical students, while nursing and pharmacy students (who have their own buildings) work with them in problem-based learning rooms and in real-world clinical simulations. The Health Sciences Learning Center features four “learning neighborhoods” (one neighborhood per class year)—a physical space that serves as a class’s home, including lockers, lounge space, and small collaboration spaces. The Health Sciences Learning Center also consolidated three remote medical libraries into one location, serving students but also patients and families who can use the resources there to become educated on a medical situation or disease.

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“Kahler Slater’s knowledge of medical technology and processes was invaluable...Kahler Slater brought to the table intelligence, experience, enthusiasm, an open mind, a sense of humor, and above all, a true passion for what they do.” Susan Skochelak, MD, MPH
Former Senior Associate Dean, Academic Affairs
UW-Madison Medical School

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