The new medical education building's innovative simulation and telemedicine facilities ensure "that tomorrow's doctors trained today at UCI will be on the forefront of advancing healthcare," says Dr. Gerald Maguire, senior associate dean of educational affairs in the School of Medicine. Hoang Xuan Pham / University Communications

Blazing a trail for 21st century medicine

The new medical education facility was designed with future of healthcare - and the planet - in mind.

Modern medicine in the U.S. is being transformed by technological advances and changing demographics, and at UC Irvine, the training of future doctors is being transformed as well.

A state-of-the-art, 65,000-square-foot facility was opened last month on the main campus to serve as an instructional hub for 1,100 medical students, residents and fellows. It will house UCI’s groundbreaking Program in Medical Education for the Latino Community and features a 60-seat interactive auditorium where students can watch live medical procedures at UC Irvine Douglas Hospital in Orange.

“Our new medical education building symbolizes UCI’s commitment to innovations in learning and will further establish the School of Medicine as a leader in simulation-based, individualized medical training for the 21st century,” says Dr. Ralph V. Clayman, medical school dean.

At the heart of the $40.5 million structure, supported by Proposition 1D funds, is a telemedicine center for teaching students to diagnose and treat patients unable to come to a medical facility in person.

“Telemedicine is being hailed as the most effective way of using technology to provide healthcare to rural, remote and underserved communities,” says Dr. Gerald Maguire, senior associate dean of educational affairs in the School of Medicine. “With the new telemedicine center, our medical students will be on the cutting edge of healthcare.”

In addition, they’ll get to practice diagnostics, treatments and procedures on some of the most advanced medical simulation equipment in the country, such as lifelike mannequins that can be programmed to mimic myriad conditions.

“The facilities in the new medical education building give us the unparalleled ability to incorporate active, small-group learning into our curriculum,” Maguire says.

A green building

A model for future sustainable development on campus, the structure is one of UCI’s greenest. Operable windows allow natural ventilation, and “solar chimneys” — rather than fans or electricity — move air through the building. It was designed to draw in outdoor light, reducing reliance on artificial illumination, while window shading is provided to block excessive heat.

Thanks to such elements, the structure’s energy performance is 27.4 percent better than that required by the California State Energy Code, the most stringent in the nation. UCI officials are seeking Gold certification for the project through the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design system.

“The design features in the medical education building are a measure of the increasing movement toward greater energy efficiency and environmental responsibility in new construction,” says Rebekah Gladson, associate vice chancellor and campus architect. “This is a significant step for campus sustainability.”

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