ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. (WJHL) – Milligan University announced Wednesday that a $1 million gift from Ballad Health will lead to the creation of a “high-fidelity simulation lab” for health science students.

Milligan leaders said the new health sciences simulation lab will improve clinical education at the university, which will in turn help fill gaps in the health care pipeline. The $1 million gift will be spread out over four years in $250,000 increments.

The label will include features like human patient simulators, medical equipment and other IT equipment, according to Milligan. University leadership said the school’s nursing, physician assistant and occupational therapy students will benefit from the heightened learning opportunities at the lab.

Students at the lab will work with manikins capable of mimicking human biological systems, which will allow for simulated blood pressure checks and other interventions.

An exact location for the future simulation lab was not shared Wednesday, but the university plans to open it by the summer of 2024.

Milligan University President Bill Greer thanked Ballad Health for the gift and said it represents a longstanding partnership between the two entities.

“We are grateful to Ballad Health for their continued support,” Greer said in a news release. “Milligan has long been a leading provider of healthcare professionals for Ballad Health and our region, with many of our graduates serving in key leadership roles within the health system.”

Greer also said for two years in a row, Milligan has been the only private university in Tennessee with 100% of its nursing students passing their licensure exam on the first try.

“That’s a wonderful accomplishment, and it speaks well of the quality of education that they receive here at Milligan,” Greer said. “And this is simply going to be another tool to make them even better, to attract more students so that we can provide the region with more health care workers.”

Ballad Health’s chief nursing executive, Dr. Lisa Smithgall said growing a pipeline of qualified medical professionals is pivotal to addressing the region’s health care professional shortage.

“The largest portion of the health care workforce were Baby Boomers,” Smithgall said. “With the pandemic and the stress on health care and the publication in the media that showed how desperate sometimes those situations were, it actually caused some people to leave the workforce of health care who weren’t at retirement age. In addition, it was a deterrent for people entering the health care workforce.”