In February 2021, a sparsely attended groundbreaking took place for a new social work and nursing building at the University of Texas Arlington.

Last week, UTA celebrated the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the School of Social Work and College of Nursing and Health Innovation Smart Hospital Building in April 2023.

“A lot has been accomplished in those 26 months,” said Tamara L. Brown, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “Never before in our lifetimes has the need for the mental health support that social workers offer us been so evident, and no one can question the bravery, dedication and selflessness of nursing professionals.”

The 150,000-square-foot building houses the nursing program and social work school and features a virtual reality lab, a classroom set up like an apartment where students can practice hospice care and at-home nursing, a simulation theater, counseling center and the Smart Hospital, which features hospital rooms with robots that simulate medical emergencies.

The UTA College of Nursing graduated approximately 1,063 nursing undergrads in Fall 2022 and roughly 1,250 in Spring 2022. The School of Social Work had 240 total graduates in Fall 2022 — 52 earned bachelor’s degrees, 185 earned master’s degrees and three earned doctorates, Jeff Carlton, a spokesperson for the university, said.

The innovative building will play a crucial role in producing trained medical professionals in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Arlington Mayor Jim Ross said. “Wellness is so important. And this building is about wellness. It’s about mental health. It’s about physical health. It’s about people taking care of people.”

“The work that will occur here in the years ahead is not only essential to the mission of UT Arlington but also a vital importance to the state of Texas,” UT System Regent Christina Melton Crain said. “The Texas Workforce Commission identified a demand-supply gap of approximately 20,000 registered nurses in Texas during a time when demand for health care occupations is already expected to grow at a much faster rate than all other occupations.”

Students Riddhi Patel, right, and Katie Jung, left, demonstrate medical procedures April 14 at the ribbon cutting ceremony of the School of Social Work and College of Nursing and Health Innovation Smart Hospital Building. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)

National Council Licensure Examination for registered nurses pass rates are high at UTA. In 2016, 88.57% of students passed the examination — 90.91% in 2017, 91.30% in 2018, 92.71% in 2019, 94.38% in 2020. The average for all Texas nursing programs was 91% in 2020.

“‘Not all angels have wings, some have scrubs.’ It captures your profession perfectly,” Crain said.

Cristian ArguetaSoto is the community engagement journalist at the Fort Worth Report. Contact him by email or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Cristian ArguetaSotoCommunity Engagement Journalist

Cristian is a May 2021 graduate of Texas Christian University. At TCU, ArguetaSoto served as staff photographer at TCU360 and later as its visual editor, overseeing other photojournalists. A Fort Worth...