Your Impact

Shot in the Arm for Nursing

Photo courtesy UF College of Nursing

B.S.N. seniors practice their clinical skills on a simulated manikin, with patient vitals displayed overhead. The college’s new state-of-the-art training facility will enable more students to practice their skills in a no-risk environment, thanks to a gift from the Kirbo Charitable Foundation.

UF nurses-in-training get a high-tech boost with a gift from the Kirbo Charitable Foundation.

As the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically shown, skilled nursing is at the heart of excellent patient care.

Now a generous donation from the Thomas M. and Irene B. Kirbo Charitable Foundation is transforming an existing resource center at the UF College of Nursing into a state-of-the-art training hub outfitted with the latest medical simulation technology.


We cannot thank the Kirbo Charitable Foundation enough for their unwavering support of our students, faculty and programs.

— Anna McDaniel, PhD, RN, FAAN, Dean of the UF College of Nursing —

Thanks to the foundation’s recent $1 million gift, the college is renovating the current Iona M. Pettengill Nursing Resource Center. The new Thomas M. and Irene B. Kirbo Innovation and Learning Laboratory will feature 6,000 square feet of technology-enriched space, including programming equipment for thousands of medical scenarios, a video debriefing zone and the latest human patient simulators, which mechanically breathe, pump “blood” and recreate the responses of real-life patients. The experiential learning lab will enable nursing students to practice life-saving skills without risk to patient safety.

“We are proud to have this innovative lab named after Mr. and Mrs. Kirbo,” said the College of Nursing’s dean, Anna McDaniel, PhD., RN, FAAN. “Through this gift, we are creating a space for our students to experience the most advanced technology to prepare them to become expert clinicians, and the very best nursing leaders.”

“We cannot thank the Kirbo Charitable Foundation enough for their unwavering support of our students, faculty and programs,” she added.

Immersive Lab Environment

Hands-on practice using simulated scenarios and realistic human manikins has been central to nursing education for 60 years. The trend began with Resusci Anne, a life-size plastic CPR model that debuted in the early 1960s, and has continued in tandem with developments in computer technology. Over the years, Resusci Anne was joined by Harvey (a 1960s manikin that simulated 27 cardiac conditions), CASE (a 1980s human simulator for anesthesia), Victoria (a maternal birthing simulator complete with baby in utero, introduced in 2014) and other increasingly lifelike “sims.”

When it opens in fall 2020, the Kirbo Innovation and Learning Laboratory will be home to some of the most advanced human patient simulators available. A squadron of new Nursing Anne manikins will enable learners to take vitals, listen to lung, heart and bowel sounds, insert IV and catheters, suction trachea, give gynecological exams, dress wounds and perform other fundamentals of nursing care.

Student nurses gather around a UF instructor as she demonstrates a procedure on a manikin torso that pumps simulated blood.

The lab also plans to purchase an additional SimMan 3G simulator, expanding the reach of this powerful teaching too. The realistic, soft-skinned manikin exhibits many possible patient responses (dilating pupils, sweat, blood flow, tongue swelling, cardiac arrest, bladder release), with mock code training for emergency situations.

A nurse performs a procedure on a SimMan 3G manikin. Two of these advanced patient simulators, which display neurological as well as physiological symptoms, will help train future nurses at the new Thomas M. and Irene B. Kirbo Innovation and Learning Laboratory, scheduled to open this fall. Photo courtesy Laerdal Medical

Not only will the manikins at the Kirbo Lab be hyper-realistic – so will the learning spaces. The lab’s new flexible partitions and moveable furniture will enable multiple classes of varying sizes and levels to access different portions of the space simultaneously, enabling more interactive learning.

A clinical area will contain five simulation bays that resemble actual hospital rooms. A procedure area will house two high-fidelity simulators in a critical-care setting. Students will dress wounds, deliver sim babies and perform procedures while instructors – hidden in a control room behind a one-way glass window – program the scenarios and operate the manikins, all as video cameras record the action.

Afterward, students will gather in a video debriefing room to view and discuss their performances, just as top athletes do when reviewing their training videos with a coach. The insights gained from these simulation debriefings are invaluable for students’ development as future nurses, says Jane Gannon, DNP, the college’s assistant dean of simulation-based learning.

“Much of the learning associated with simulation takes place during debriefings,” said Gannon. “It offers understanding using a self-reflection process and encourages students to reflect on what went well and what could be improved.”

A Friend of Nursing

This renovation would not be possible without the largesse of the Thomas M. and Irene B. Kirbo Charitable Foundation, one of the UF College of Nursing’s most ardent longtime supporters.

The foundation was established in 1981 by brothers Bruce and Charles Kirbo, in memory of longtime Jacksonville residents Thomas and Irene Kirbo. Thomas was active in mortgage banking and real estate for close to 60 years, and Irene was involved in civic and cultural activities.

A College of Nursing student converses with an elderly patient during her training. Future nurses must become comfortable with all aspects of patient interaction before applying their skills in real-life clinical settings. Photo courtesy UF College of Nursing

Since 1983, the Kirbo Charitable Foundation has donated more than $3.3 million to the College of Nursing, funding various projects and endowing the Kirbo Chair in Oncology Nursing and the R. Murray and Annabel Davis Jenks Endowed Professorship in Nursing Excellence. The latter is named for former foundation trustee R. Murray Jenks and his wife, Annabel, who was a nurse.

With the Kirbo Foundation’s support, the University of Florida has built up one of the strongest nursing education programs in the country. The college is consistently ranked in the Top 25 of graduate degree-awarding nursing schools in the U.S., and its BSN graduating class is among the largest in Florida each year. And when the Kirbo Innovation and Learning Laboratory opens its doors, the college will stand at the forefront of nursing pedagogy.

Its benefactors could not be more excited to join UF in that quest.

“The UF College of Nursing has always been on the cutting edge of teaching and training methods,” said Martha Sawyer, trustee of the Kirbo Foundation. “We know that having a high-tech simulation lab in which to practice their skills will be of enormous benefit to Gator nurses.”

“The current pandemic has shown how much the world depends on skilled, dedicated nursing professionals,” she added. “This gift is our way of saying to nurses, ‘Thank you for all you do.’”

Would you like to help advance experiential learning at the UF College of Nursing and enable Gator Nurses to reach their greatest potential?

The College of Nursing needs critical support for additional technology to outfit the new state-of-the-art Kirbo Innovation and Learning Laboratory, which opens this fall.

Click here to donate to the fund.

Or, contact Anna Harper at or 352-273-6360 to find out about opportunities for sponsorship and support.