How do you help students visualize a future career in healthcare?
Technology has transformed traditional pedagogy in healthcare education. High tech simulation now offers students a unique, real-world perspective in treating comprehensive medical issues.
On May 5, 2022, Peninsula College (PC), in collaboration with the West Sound STEM Network (WSSN), hosted regional Career and Technical Education (CTE) teachers for the STEM Café: Exploring Post-Secondary Healthcare Education to demonstrate how cutting-edge technology intersects with healthcare practice.
Regional high school educators committed to engage in their own professional development, adding three hours of continuing education to an already full work-day. Within the backdrop of their state-of-the-art facility, PC faculty led participants in hands-on activities, practicing critical thinking skills required with complex, patient-centered care – activities which could be scaled to the classroom setting.
Lisa Joslin, CTE Director for Port Angeles School District (PASD) noted she and her fellow PASD faculty felt the event “was an informative, fun, and an engaging three hours!!”
WSSN has a successful history of providing hands-on professional development for educators. An added benefit to the session was the opportunity to network with other educators in the region to share best practices, and to hear from PC representatives from the offices of Outreach, Admissions, Financial Aid, and Dual Credit.
The STEM Café model is just one way WSSN supports career exploration for youth in high-wage, high-demand occupations.
Hands-on projects are essential for students to understand the complexity and depth of occupations needed for a successful team approach to medical care. Often, when K-12 students think of healthcare, they think of occupations like a medical doctor or nurse. However, there are many career pathways involving patient and non-patient care, with multiple exit and entry points representing opportunities for wage and career progression.
For example, to obtain foundational skills in nursing, a student might participate in a short-term Nursing Assistant Certificate (NAC) program. After earning an industry-recognized credential like the NAC, students could choose to work and/or apply themselves to continuing their education to become a Practical Nurse, Registered Nurse, with either an Associate’s Degree, Baccalaureate degree, or a Master’s degree in Nursing.
Or, after dipping their toe in the foundational skills of nursing care, they may use that early credential to aid in an application for another program representing a different healthcare discipline.
Students also may not realize that healthcare is a major economic driver in our region and State. Projections for growth in healthcare careers are strong. Current vacancies, a retiring workforce, and the pandemic have exacerbated an already significant need for qualified healthcare employees. Check out the current career opportunities in Washington State.
Peninsula College offers several entry-level programs which allow students to get started more quickly in a healthcare career. Certificate options include Emergency Medical Technician and Phlebotomy. Those initial certificates can lead to Associate degree pathways of Medical Assistant, Medical Office Assistant, Addiction Studiesand other disciplines, if they consider other higher education institutions. Depending on the student’s interest there are any number of pathways that can start in the Olympic Peninsula, which then can lead to wherever they want to go.