March 12, 2019

As much as Century College is known for student success, they are renowned for innovation. The most prominent example of this is the Fab Lab, a state-of-the art STEM facility that’s always on top of the latest manufacturing technology – most recently, 3D bioprinting.

But tech isn’t the only area where Century College is on the cutting edge. They also innovate in the classroom. Students aren’t limited to lectures and textbooks. Real-world experience, particularly internships, forms a vital part of a Century College education.

In short, Century College believes one of the best ways to learn is by doing. But for the non-credit Health Unit Coordinator program, curated by Continuing Education and Customized Training, internships are notoriously hard to come by, as health care organizations tend to look for students with more experience.

In response, Health Careers Programs Manager Lynette Wies decided to think outside of the box. She and Health Unit Coordinator (HUC) Instructor Susan Orth worked with Nursing Instructor Rose Raleigh to create a collaborative simulation. They devised a “Code Blue” scenario, in which nurses and health unit coordinators work together to treat a patient suffering from cardiac arrest.

The collaboration was notable not only for its ingenuity, but for the unique collaboration between credit and non-credit programs.

“It’s been a big win for Century College,” said Wies. “I think our students are coming out with an upper hand when they’re looking for jobs – I don’t know of any other HUC program in the metro that’s using simulation.”

A Team Model

Nursing is built on what Orth refers to as a team model. It makes perfect sense, then, that simulation would be a large part of the curriculum.

“In nursing, you’re never by yourself,” said Orth. “There are so many different people that you have to work with. Simulation helps everyone learn to communicate professionally in tense emergency situations.”

Naturally, it’s vital for both nursing and health unit coordinator students to practice interacting with different roles. But collaboration between health care programs isn’t always practical.

“Our success is truly based on partnerships,” said Wies. “The fact that Century College’s credit and non-credit courses work so well together is rare, because it does create extra work. It’s great that the Nursing department has been so willing to collaborate with HUC.”

Another more obvious benefit of simulation is its function as an exercise of trial and error. Students learn what works and change what doesn’t. That, according to Raleigh, has made simulation an overwhelmingly positive experience.

“The students love it,” said Raleigh. “They get absorbed in the role and feel like they are the nurse. It gives them a lot of confidence, which isn’t something that can be taught from a textbook.”

Compassionate Care

Effective communication isn’t only a matter of optimizing operations and practicing protocol. According to Orth, the biggest change in the health care industry over the last 15 years is in customer service.

“Most patients have a choice of what hospital they go to,” said Orth. “You want people to trust you. If someone has a negative experience, they’ll remember that, and they’ll tell other people.”

Health Sciences coursework typically revolves around physical care. But emotional care is also a vital aspect of health care that Orth places a special emphasis on.

Orth, who is employed as an HUC, devises unique situations she runs into that aren’t necessarily “nursing” issues. This includes communicating appropriately with patients and assisting distraught family members.

“It’s about more than getting repeat customers,” said Orth. “It’s about compassionate care. It’s about being empathetic, and always being conscious of your words.”

Succeeding in a Changing World

Student success is the goal of any higher education institution. What sets Century College’s mission apart is its commitment to help students succeed in a changing world.

It’s this emphasis on change that drives Century College’s commitment to innovation. They strive to not only keep pace with change, but to facilitate it as well.

Customer service isn’t the only change that influences Century College’s Health Sciences department. In a dynamic industry like health care, communication skills are essential to growing and adapting. That’s why simulation and collaboration between programs is so vital.

“Our programs are doing a great job of keeping abreast of changes in the public sector,” said Orth. “I believe we’re turning the corner in the health care classes that are being taught at Century College.”