Nursing studies have gotten a major upgrade with Wesley's new Health Sciences Building.

Wesley College ushered in a new era in its nursing education program Thursday with the opening of its renovated Health Sciences building on South New Street, Dover.

At almost 35,000 square feet, the two-story building gives Wesley’s nursing students more than six times the learning space they had when the program was taught out of the basement of the college’s main building, five blocks to the north.

It’s a welcome change, said Allie Montgomery, a third-year nursing student from Lewes.

“There’s a big difference. This new building is much more conducive to learning,” Montgomery said as she guided some of the more than 150 people attending the grand opening to a reception on the building’s second-floor.

“You don’t have all the distractions and we have a lot more space for learning,” she said.

Located in the former J. Allen Frear Jr. Federal Building, which was gifted to the school in 2012, the $10 million building contains four smart technology classrooms, offices, a computer lab, and specialized labs for teaching the basics of nursing, as well as health assessment, obstetrics and pediatrics and intensive and critical care nursing.

One area, dubbed the “sim room,” is a mockup of a typical hospital suite that’s “much more like a real hospital room,” said junior Carolyn Rossetti.

There’s also room for future expansion, which wasn’t available on the main Wesley grounds, where nursing students sometimes had to attend classes on different parts of the campus and put up with noise from the college cafeteria, located just above their classroom.

Renovations were paid for by almost four dozen supporters and alumni who contributed more than $10,000 each to the effort; separate contributions also paid for individual rooms and labs in the building. Construction costs totaled almost $1.5 million, and included a new roof, sprinkler system and flooring.

“This facility is a true test of the collaborative efforts of the federal, state and local government, as well as tremendous community support,” said Wesley College President Dr. William N. Johnston.

“With the gift of the building and with the generous contributions of so many toward the renovations, we are extremely grateful to be in this wonderful facility debt free.”

One student who only will enjoy the new health sciences amenities for a few more months is senior Rebecca Zimmerman. She spent most of her academic time in the old facilities, but that really doesn’t matter; Zimmerman loves the education she’s gotten at Wesley.

“I had heard about it from another student while I was in high school,” said the Burlington County, N.J., native. “When I came here, I just knew it was where I wanted to be.”