Technology (Innovations for Education)

Preparing Students for Health Care Careers

Health Sciences Teaching facilities


Today’s Health Sciences Teaching facilities require state-of-the-art labs, exam rooms and high-tech simulation equipment to prepare students for their medical-related careers. At Cleveland State University (CSU) in Ohio, several factors merged to allow administrators to build the Center for Innovation in Medical Professions (CIMP), a facility that opened last summer.

“Historically, CSU has had quite a few health profession programs, such as Speech & Hearing, Occupational Therapy/Physical Therapy (OT/PT), nursing and social work,” says Vida B. Lock, Ph.D., R.N., CSU’s dean of the School of Nursing. “These programs were in different colleges, and they were spread all across campus. In 2006, the chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents was looking at admissions differentiation among public universities, and noted that programs should reflect the environments in which the schools are situated. Because Cleveland is globally recognized for excellence in medicine, health care was the obvious choice for CSU, so there was an interest in expanding our program.

“In addition,” Lock continues, “our president worked out an agreement to partner with Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED) in an urban primary care program, so Partnership for Urban Health was established and needed a home. Also with this program, we added additional disciplines to train people to perform health care in urban regions.

Health Sciences Teaching facilities


“Finally,” says Lock, “we made a decision to follow the international movement toward interprofessional education for all the disciplines, old and new. In the old model, health care students were educated in silos: physical therapy here, physicians there, nurses over there. And when they graduated, they were supposed to work together to take care of the same patients. Now, they’re being educated together to learn about the different health disciplines and how they’re related, which allows them to perform better on the job as they work together to assist patients. Interprofessional education is difficult to do when you’re spread all across campus, so it became very important to have one facility to bring all the disciplines together.”

Planning and Design

Once the decision was made to build, the next step was planning. First, a search committee identified the architect: Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, a firm whose home office is in New Haven, CT. Next came the planning. “It was of a collaborative nature, and everybody was involved,” says Lock. “We had faculty meetings to gather ideas and opinions and wish lists of all the things we wanted.” The process began modeling collegiality and collaboration from day one, as representatives of all the disciplines discussed what spaces could be shared. “I believe that the input from all the different health disciplines made for a much better project,” she sums. “This is a work in progress; we don’t have all the answers, but it certainly started out on the right foot.”

The collaborative efforts extended to the project architect, Kristin Hawkins, AIA, associate principal with Pelli Clarke Pelli. “She really listened to what we needed,” Lock says. “She would make a drawing, and we would indicate why something wouldn’t work. She’d put tissue paper on top and rework it. And the reverse was true, too, in that sometimes we would indicate that something needed to be moved and she would indicate why it couldn’t, such as wiring or supporting beams.”

The Space

The facility CSU administrators came up with provides space for expanded disciplines and the Partnership for Urban Health, as well as allows for interprofessional education.

For example, the building is outfitted with a B-Line simulation software system that records video and audio of student activity with lifelike patient simulations that instructors can monitor from any location. “We were using a different system that came with the mannequins we had,” explains Lock. “NEOMED had B-Line and felt strongly they wanted the same system here. We thought it didn’t make sense to have two different systems. It’s expensive, but it was a wise decision.”

As students perform a simulation, it is digitally videotaped and audiotaped. It can be replayed for students to see how they performed; it can be shown to a class for review; and faculty can review it to rank students and/or provide feedback. “It’s a very powerful learning tool,” says Lock. “One way we’re using it is with physical exams. The student enters an exam room, conducts an exam on an actor playing a patient. It’s just the two of them in the room. The exam is watched in real time from another room, recorded and shown to the student later with feedback.”

Health Sciences Teaching facilities
Health Sciences Teaching facilities


THIS IS GETTING REAL. Simulation training benefits health care students by allowing them a safe environment to explore and examine clinical competencies, patient management, interprofessional working, clinical communication and situational awareness. Technology-enhanced simulation training is consistently associated with large effects for outcomes of knowledge, skills and behaviors. Through the use of audiovisual capabilities, being able to witness not just one’s own individual actions, but also team interaction, is generally acknowledged to uniquely optimize the learning experience. The feedback process has been cited as the most valuable component of simulation and accounts for approximately 70 percent of the entire simulation exercise.

Similarly, high-tech simulation mannequins are used to teach students medical techniques, as well as give them an opportunity to become comfortable with touching and talking to patients. “Having labs that look like hospital wards outfitted with simulation mannequins,” says Lock, “allows us to teach students specific skills and techniques and have them practice so that they’re more competent when they go to the hospital and work with actual patients.”

In yet another space are exam rooms shared between Speech & Hearing and medicine. As part of the Speech & Hearing students’ education, they see real clients, a lot of whom are children. It was important that children be comfortable, as opposed to frightened, in the exam rooms. “The design solution in those rooms was to have tables that are designed to be friendly,” Lock says, “and the equipment is in a cabinet rather than hanging on the wall.”

The Future

Lock is passionate about CIMP’s potential. “There are areas for students to sit and work in groups,” she says. “There are electrical outlets all over the place, and even in the furniture. The faculty offices are all mixed up in order to have different disciplines bump into each other to spur conversation and ideas.”

Potential also exists in that the building was designed to support innovation. Specifically, two white box/black box rooms are set aside for requesting space for conducting innovative projects. Currently, both rooms are assigned. In one, a physical therapy instructor is working with Go Baby Go, which makes plastic pedal cars for children. Through a grant, the cars are being adapted for children with physical or cognitive impairments. The benefit is that studies show that physical activity spurs brain development. In the second room, an interprofessional group is establishing an Area Health Education Center (AHEC). According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “The AHEC Program enhances access to high-quality, culturally competent health care through academic-community partnerships to ultimately improve the distribution, diversity and supply of the primary care health professions workforce who serve in rural and underserved health care delivery sites.” Lock is excited that the effort will lead to community involvement, participatory research and service to the community.

“CIMP is meeting our needs much better than what was previously in place,” says Lock. “It has brought together all the different health disciplines and is providing additional technology and space that was direly needed. We’re thrilled to have a building that keeps students engaged in learning and prepares them for their chosen medical careers.”

This article originally appeared in the issue of .

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