Head of the Class

Posted 2 December 2014 12:59 PM by TCAuthor3

By Dorothy Erdmann, CEO, Shawano Medical Center

I recently caught up with Kay Tupala, the dean of health sciences at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, and asked about the college’s plans for our collaborative learning center inside the new ThedaCare Medical Center-Shawano. It’s the 5,000 square-foot teaching and learning space for NWTC’s nursing students and our own staff continuing education classes. Here’s what I learned:

  • Two large classrooms will look very different from even a generation ago. One is a computer lab, and the other is designed as an active learning space for 24 students where teams work together in pods. Their instructors will teach with a large interactive screen and push out course materials to each wirelessly-equipped team station.
  • A brand new Laerdal patient simulator has been ordered to replace an older model currently in use at the NWTC Shawano campus. The electronic device looks and behaves like a human for the purpose of training nursing students before they are ready to use their new skills on real patients. Since there will be more and better planned space, this simulator will not need to be put away between lessons. It will get more use just by being available any time for students or staff to practice with the simulator’s vital signs, clinical signs and symptoms.
  • The simulator is an amazing teaching tool. It’s an interactive software-controlled mannequin on which students can do a complete physical assessment, including measuring blood pressure and pulse. Nursing students can practice IV starts and administering IV and intramuscular medications, and the mannequin responds to their actions. Students also learn to listen to breath sounds, heart sounds, and bowel sounds, and distinguish between normal and abnormal, as the operator can change the settings to mimic different types of responses. It even has a microphone, so the operator can act as the voice of the mannequin and reply to students’ questions.
  • Students and teaching staff are equally enthused about learning in an exact replica of a ThedaCare Medical Center patient room, right down to the equipment and furniture arrangement that we will have in our inpatient rooms down the hall. Since our goal is to “grow our own” Shawano-area nurses and assistants, this arrangement is the next best thing to on-the-job training.

One of my favorite new phrases, courtesy of Kay Tupala, is active learning classrooms. Just as it sounds, students will be dynamic, hands-on, and engaged as they actively participate in their training. It’s a good feeling to know that we are part of the leading edge of health care—and education—in this place we call home.

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