WGU Announces New State-of-the-Art Nursing Simulation Lab

Western Governors University (WGU) plans to open an 18,000-square-foot nursing prelicensure simulation lab in Kansas City, Missouri designed for students who are seeking their first baccalaureate degree and want to prepare for a career in nursing while earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.).

The lab will open in late 2023 and is part of WGU’s Michael O. Leavitt School of Health's (LSH) investment and expansion of the nation's leading nursing prelicensure program. WGU’s Kansas City lab features state-of-the-art hospital equipment, 17 patient beds in five simulation rooms, and four patient exam rooms. The location also includes two skills labs, five student-focused debriefing rooms, and a large multipurpose room for training and teaching.

In Missouri, WGU expects to train and graduate more than 1,000 nurses by 2026. Nationwide, WGU plans to open nursing prelicensure simulation labs across 11 states, adding capacity to train more than 4,800 nursing graduates to the workforce by 2027. 

“Thanks to the financial support from the Missouri General Assembly — and support from local leaders like the Platte County Economic Development, Missouri Partnership, Kansas City Area Development Council, and all of our Missouri and local Kansas City partners — WGU is advancing health equity through quality nursing education and removing barriers that prevent access to nursing degrees. We are growing the pipeline of well-qualified nurses ready to join the workforce in the Show Me State,” said Janelle Sokolowich, WGU Academic Vice President and Dean, Leavitt School of Health. “We’ve designed the program so that there are no prerequisite courses for program admission, opening doors for many first-time students here in Missouri and the surrounding area.”

With partnerships with healthcare employers in several states, WGU provides practice sites and clinical coaches to teach and inspire students. Approximately 60% of the program is completed online, with the remaining 40% as hands-on clinical and lab time. Students will complete multiple clinical rotations in hospitals and community-based settings for each clinical course. The program includes cutting-edge clinical simulations, virtual and high-fidelity simulations, and agency-based clinical rotations in hospitals and other healthcare sites within the community.

“We are proud that WGU has selected Platte County, the fastest-growing county in the state of Missouri, to expand their nursing prelicensure program with the announcement of the new simulation lab,” said Tina Chace, Executive Director of Platte County Economic Development Council. “There is significant demand for healthcare professionals, both nationally and regionally here in the Kansas City metro. We are confident that WGU’s efforts to attract and train nursing students will help to address that shortage and build a strong workforce pipeline.”

"Missouri takes pride in its leadership in healthcare innovation and remains committed to nurturing a highly skilled workforce for the ever-growing demand in all industries," said Subash Alias, CEO of Missouri Partnership. “WGU's distinctive training method for aspiring nurses will play a vital role in addressing the national nursing shortage, and we are proud Missouri is a part of it.”

More than 20,000 nursing students are currently enrolled at WGU’s Leavitt School of Health (LSH), and more than 120,000 have graduated from LSH. With WGU’s new prelicensure program, students can enroll with no prerequisites and graduate in four years with all requirements needed to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam. The prelicensure program will steadily expand as WGU continues to develop nursing labs and clinical space for in-person and clinical lab rotations throughout the country.

WGU’s competency-based learning model allows students to advance in the program as soon as they prove mastery of the material through rigorous assessment. As a result, graduates are well-prepared to enter the workforce. Over the last five years, WGU’s first-time National Council Licensure Examine (NCLEX) average pass rate was 90.82 percent, markedly higher than the national average of all BSN programs as reported by NCSBN. WGU has educated two percent of the nation’s registered nurses, representing more than 170,000 jobs in the healthcare industry.