Red Deer Polytechnic  has unveiled the newly named Welikoklad Simulation Lab thanks to a generous donation from Bill and Irma Welikoklad. 

In the Welikoklad Simulation Lab, Health Sciences students work through simulations of real-world patient care scenarios, which are facilitated by instructors. These experiences help students develop competence and confidence in a safe environment. In simulation, students may either work with actors, who represent a variety of patient scenarios, or with high-fidelity manikins that simulate a range of high-pressure situations, such as cardiac arrest. 

Experiential learning opportunities for students help them connect classroom theory to the real-world application of their skills, which is important across all programs. Experiential, hands-on learning is a pillar of the Red Deer Polytechnic model, with new learning opportunities being designed for students in all programs. More than 800 students each year learn within Red Deer Polytechnic’s Welikoklad Simulation Lab. This includes students enrolled in Bachelor of Science – Nursing, Practical Nurse Diploma, Pharmacy Technician Diploma, Occupational and Physical Therapy Diploma and Medical Lab Assistant Certificate. These are popular programs, with high enrolment and high demand for graduates. 

“For students in our Health Sciences programs, the scenarios they work through in the safe environment of the Welikoklad Simulation Lab help them to develop critical skills in patient care,” says Sharon Hamilton, Dean of the School of Community, Wellness and Health “Through these experiential learning opportunities, including mandatory professional practice and simulation learning, they are prepared to navigate high- pressure and challenging circumstances with the calm confidence their patients require.” 

While the Welikoklad Simulation Lab is not a new facility, the upgrades enabled by this gift significantly improve learners' experiences in the space. The gift will be used to create three new debriefing rooms and two new Simulation suites in the current expansion. 

The opportunity to support improvements in such an innovative learning space appealed to the Welikoklads. They see the gift as a way to have a far-reaching impact on the community where Bill was raised since the age of three, and where they have raised their family. He and his family have watched the city grow and, as the founder of Red Deer’s Home Building Centre, Bill has also helped build it. In fact, in 1966, Bill worked as a general foreman on the construction team that built Red Deer Junior College. Since 1938, Bill has lived less than a mile from Red Deer Polytechnic’s main campus. 

“We have always felt a connection to Red Deer Polytechnic and are glad to be able to support students to access high-quality education in Red Deer. This community has been good to us, and it’s nice to be able to give back,” says Bill Welikoklad. 

The Welikoklads have supported a number of initiatives at Red Deer Polytechnic, including the downtown campus expansion, where the Welikoklad Event Centre was named in 2015 in recognition of their gift. In 2009, they established an endowment with their business, Red Deer’s Home Building Centre, to support five annual awards for Trades and Business students. 

“Bill and Irma Welikoklad are champions of our institution, and they’ve invested in Red Deer Polytechnic students for many years,” says Red Deer Polytechnic President, Stuart Cullum. “The Welikoklad Simulation Lab is indicative of the kind of innovative experiential learning opportunities we provide at Red Deer Polytechnic, and we’re proud to acknowledge Bill and Irma in the space. We’re grateful for their generous gift and for their continued support for the work that we do.”