$1M Gift from UArizona Alumni Bolsters Nursing’s Health Care Simulation Technology

Aug. 19, 2020

The gift will fund educational support, including enhanced simulation facilities at the Tucson and Gilbert campuses, for University of Arizona nursing students.


TUCSON, Ariz. — University of Arizona alumni Andrew and Kirsten Braccia have made a $1.5 million gift to the university, $1 million of which is designated for the UArizona College of Nursing to support next-generation education for nursing students.

Students train in the college's Steele Innovative Simulated Learning Center, or SILC lab, in Tucson. (Photo: University of Arizona College of Nursing)

Students train in the college's Steele Innovative Simulated Learning Center, or SILC lab, in Tucson. (Photo: University of Arizona College of Nursing)

The Braccias’ gift will enhance simulation capabilities at the College of Nursing’s Tucson, Phoenix Biomedical and Gilbert campuses, and provide students online access to virtual-patient experiences. Nursing students regularly engage in team-based clinical procedures under the direction of faculty members and simulation specialists. This technology gives future nurses opportunities to receive live feedback while training in realistic and complex scenarios.

"The University of Arizona College of Nursing has a long history of distinction among peer institutions, and this gift will help propel the college even further,” said University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins, MD. “Andrew and Kirsten have a deep commitment to the future of nursing and ensuring that nurses receive the best education possible, whether they are learning remotely or in person. I am very grateful for their partnership and support."

“The field of nursing has no better friends than the Braccias, who are tremendous supporters of the University of Arizona Health Sciences’ vision to provide next-generation education opportunities for its students. Andrew and Kirsten’s generosity comes at a critical time, as the state of Arizona and the nation grapple with the need for highly trained nurses to deliver holistic, compassionate care,” said Michael D. Dake, MD, senior vice president for UArizona Health Sciences.

Ida M. “Ki” Moore, PhD, RN, FAAN, Dean of the UArizona College of Nursing

Ida M. “Ki” Moore, PhD, RN, FAAN, Dean of the UArizona College of Nursing

“I am deeply grateful for the generous gift that Andrew and Kirsten made to the College of Nursing to ensure the continued success of our students during this challenging time,” said UArizona Nursing Dean Ida M. “Ki” Moore, PhD, RN, FAAN. “It has been my pleasure to learn about the Braccias’ priorities for moving the College of Nursing forward in an era where state-of-the-art technology will most certainly be center stage. We are already seeing the positive impact of their gift on our students’ ability to engage in virtual and web-based simulations that for the immediate future will replace ‘on-ground’ experiences.”

Steve Machtley, assistant dean for Learning and Healthcare Technology Innovations in the College of Nursing, said the purchases from the Braccias’ gift to the college fall into three broad categories: software subscriptions, upgrades to its simulation facilities, and equipment and other essential technology to support online teaching and learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under Machtley’s guidance, and in coordination with faculty, the College of Nursing will subscribe to online software solutions that offer virtual patient encounters designed to supplement or replace a student’s experience in an in-person simulation center or patient-care setting. The simulations will present students with realistic clinical scenarios in an interactive environment to help them understand the case, practice skills and make sound decisions.

A student examines a mannequin at the UArizona College of Nursing's Gilbert Simulation Suite at its Gilbert, Arizona, campus. (Photo: University of Arizona College of Nursing)

A student examines a mannequin at the UArizona College of Nursing's Gilbert Simulation Suite at its Gilbert, Arizona, campus. (Photo: University of Arizona College of Nursing)

“We are purchasing virtual reality equipment to provide our students the opportunity to experience some of these simulated patient encounters with even greater immersion,” Machtley said. “We have a vision of incorporating extended reality learning experiences throughout our curriculum, so this wonderful gift enables us to move forward in that direction.”

The gift also will support much-needed enhancements to College of Nursing simulation facilities. The Steele Innovative Simulated Learning Center in Tucson will launch phase one of its planned renovation. Updates include replacement of core audiovisual technology and integration with the UArizona Health Sciences clinical simulation management platform used in the Health Sciences Innovation Building. Together, these improvements will provide live remote monitoring and video capture of simulation activities for enhanced debrief and student learning. At the college’s new Gilbert campus, funds will be used to expand and improve functionality within its simulation rooms to support program growth. In addition, both the Phoenix Biomedical and Gilbert campuses will receive new high-fidelity pediatric manikins.

Another important goal of the Braccias’ gift to UArizona Nursing is to support and augment technology needed for distance learning due to the pandemic. These include smart health equipment like Bluetooth stethoscopes that will be incorporated into telehealth simulations, video production kits for faculty to produce skills-training demonstrations and audiovisual equipment to support remote access to classroom sessions for students who need to isolate themselves from others after the return to campus.

The Braccias live in the San Francisco area with their four children. A proud Wildcat Nurse for Life, Kirsten Braccia graduated from the UArizona College of Nursing and worked as a registered nurse at the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital on the Stanford University campus. Andrew Braccia, an alumnus of the UArizona Eller College of Management, is a venture capitalist with Accel.

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Another version of this story appears on the UANews website.

NOTE: Photos available here – https://arizona.box.com/s/12fdl26jfiqejwyzwdqfeyccq8fk0gzh.

About the University of Arizona College of Nursing
Established in 1957, the University of Arizona College of Nursing has been transforming nursing education, research and practice to help people build better futures for more than 60 years. Consistently ranked among the best programs in the nation, the college is strengthening health care’s largest workforce and the public’s most trusted profession through its undergraduate and graduate programs, offered online and on-campus in Tucson and Phoenix. Headquartered in Tucson, Ariz., where integrative health has been pioneered, the UA College of Nursing is home to the world’s only Integrative Nursing Faculty Fellowship. With key focal strengths in integrative health, cancer prevention and survivorship, and nursing informatics, the college has more than 7,000 alumni worldwide promoting health and wellness in their workplaces and communities. For more information: nursing.arizona.edu (Follow us: Facebook | Instagram | YouTube | LinkedIn).

About the University of Arizona Health Sciences
The University of Arizona Health Sciences is the statewide leader in biomedical research and health professions training. UArizona Health Sciences includes the Colleges of Medicine (Tucson and Phoenix), Nursing, Pharmacy, and the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, with main campus locations in Tucson and the Phoenix Biomedical Campus in downtown Phoenix. From these vantage points, Health Sciences reaches across the state of Arizona, the greater Southwest and around the world to provide next-generation education, research and outreach. A major economic engine, Health Sciences employs nearly 5,000 people, has approximately 4,000 students and 900 faculty members, and garners $200 million in research grants and contracts annually. For more information: uahs.arizona.edu (Follow us: Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | LinkedIn | Instagram).

About the University of Arizona Foundation
Now in its 63rd year, the University of Arizona Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the University of Arizona through philanthropy. Since its inception, the foundation has helped generate more than $3 billion in private funding to support and elevate the university's global leadership position in experiential and interdisciplinary education, research and entrepreneurial partnerships. The University of Arizona is ranked No. 92 on The Chronicle of Philanthropy's list of America's Favorite Charities, the 100 American organizations that raise the most money annually. For more information: uafoundation.org.

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