Teaching In-Demand Skills: How Healthcare Educators Engage Today’s Students

By Emily Kuhn, Realityworks Marketing Communication Specialist

Note: This article was originally published in the October 2017 issue of Techniques. ACTE members can read the complete article on page 19 of the current issue. Not a member? Click here to join and access this monthly career and technical education publication.

Healthcare educators are changing the way they teach patient care skills, and for good reason. Not only is U.S. demand for healthcare expected to grow twice as fast as the national economy in the next eight years, but older Americans are retiring in droves 800,000 in the last quarter of 2016 alone (Carnevale, 2012 & Kawa, 2017). As demand for nursing and geriatric care skills increases, so will the importance of using teaching tools and resources that truly engage the new generations of healthcare students — students with shorter attention spans, better technology skills and a stronger desire for authentic, real-world learning experiences than their predecessors (Hawkins, 2015).

“Curriculum may not have changed, but students are definitely changing,” said Kasey Carlson, RN, MSN, M.Ed. A nursing faculty member and educational technologist at a Wisconsin college, Carlson was a registered nurse for six years and has taught in the healthcare field for more than 10. “We used to do a lot of textbook and lectures, with very little hands-on experience. When I went to school, we didn’t have a whole lot of technology; a standard mannequin was a brand-new concept to us. But now we are looking at a generation that has been brought up with multimedia and video games. They are more real-life focused. They remember more if they have an experience.”

Teaching Today’s Digital Natives

You may have heard the term “digital native” used to describe today’s students, most of whom were born after 1995 and are therefore members of “Generation Z.” They are considered digital natives because they grew up with technology, and have never known a world without media. This means that the standard classroom model where an educator stands in front of the class and lectures just doesn’t work. Generation Z students want to be successful — in fact, the desire to change the world is a hallmark of this generation — but they will disengage with the discussion if they don’t feel connected or if they don’t see the relevance (Wotapka, 2017). Generation Z students are accustomed to immediate feedback. Current technology enables them to learn anything, anytime, anywhere. The world is at their fingertips. Thus, these students are not satisfied simply hearing about a topic. They want to see it, touch it and feel it.

That’s why Miranda Kessler, RN-BSN, is using interactive tools like age simulation suits in her health occupations program at Nicholas County Career and Technical Education Center in West Virginia. Not only do her feedback-hungry students thrive when given opportunities to engage in active learning opportunities, but such activities can help them develop employability skills like critical thinking, problem solving and attention to detail — skills that some hiring managers have found lacking in today’s students (Dishman, 2016). In the two decades she has been helping 11th- and 12th-graders prepare to obtain their state nursing assistant certifications, Kessler has seen firsthand the way her students’ learning styles have changed, and she strives to incorporate interactive teaching tools like simulators as often as she can.

“Years ago, everything was done with paper and pencil. You read the book, did the worksheet, took a written test and moved on until you got through the material and it was time for clinicals,” said Kessler. “Now, technology is front and center. Anything that captures students’ attention and can get them excited and make them want to learn is welcome in my classroom. And ‘cool tools’ like simulators always keep my kids’ attention.”

Cool Tools for Engaging Generation Z

When Kessler saw literature for the RealCare Geriatric Simulator at an education conference, she went straight to her administrator to share the discovery.

“When I told my principal about the simulator and he saw how excited I was to implement it into my program, he bought in immediately,” recalled Kessler. “He was actually the first person to try it when it arrived! He was amazed by how it changed his normal, routine activities and made everything feel much more physically demanding.”

The Geriatric Simulator sensitivity suit allows students to experience a variety of age-related physical challenges. It includes a weighted vest, ankle weights, wrist weights, elbow restraints, knee restraints, gloves, a cervical collar and visual impairment glasses. When students try to accomplish tasks like walking around, opening pill bottles and buttoning shirts, they begin to understand the way physical challenges like decreased mobility, stooped posture, cataracts and glaucoma can affect daily life.

“I wanted to be able to teach my students to be more understanding and empathetic with the aging process once we made it into our clinical rotation at the local nursing home,” Kessler said of why she incorporated the simulator into her program. “I wanted them to understand why the residents moved so slowly and I wanted them to learn to be patient and kind while working with them.”

According to Carlson, tools like wearable simulators can help healthcare educators address employability skills like empathy and sensitivity toward the elderly.

“Empathy is one of the most difficult things to teach a student. It’s something students have to experience and grow themselves, versus being told to do it,” Carlson said. “The hands-on component allows students to think critically through a procedure, but also focus on the patient, and on professionalism.”

ACTE members, log in to read the complete article on page 18 of the October Techniques issue. Not a member? Click here to join.

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5 Things You Should Be Doing Every Time You Deploy Baby

Sending out RealCare Baby with students throughout the year can create unique challenges. Here are 5 best practices we have gathered from talking with instructors over the years.

1. Gather available resources. There are a wealth of resources available when working with RealCare Baby:

2. Follow through. If you tell your students that if they return their baby with their wristband broken they get a zero, then give them a zero, etc. If you start making exceptions, you will weaken your program.

3. Practice makes perfect! Take class time to give all students hands-on practice before sending Babies home with them. This will solve many problems that you might have otherwise.

4. Be creative. Assign hands-on projects, like play time between students and their Babies. Have students journal and take pictures documenting their play time.

5. Do your own press. Don’t forget to toot your horn! Social media is a great way to get student involvement. Be sure to publicize what you are doing at school and in your local media. Don’t forget to include pictures!

The following are also great resources to reference:

Empathy in Geriatric Patient Care

Careers in geriatrics and gerontology are on the rise:

  • 4 of the top 6 occupations with most projected job growth through 2024 deal with geriatric care
  • Health occupations and social assistance industries are expected to have the fastest employment growth and add the most jobs through 2024
  • 5 million job openings will be available in the healthcare and social assistance sector from 2012 to 2022
  • Healthcare and social assistance industry careers are projected to increase 29 percent through 2022, compared to an average of 11 percent for all industries

Realityworks has developed the Geriatric Simulator and Geriatric Sensory Impairment Kit for instructors to help students to develop empathy for the geriatric population. Both include curriculum, addressing age-related sensory challenges and patient care skills.

Will today’s students be prepared to care for our growing elderly population? What does empathy in geriatric patient care look like?

The following infographic explores these ideas and more, and is a great resource for keeping the importance of empathy and sensitivity at the front of students’ minds in the classroom.

For another great resource on this topic, check out this recent webinar: How to Teach Geriatric Sensitivity to Students.

5 Great Ways to Bring Soft Skills into the CTE Classroom

Soft skills, employability skills, people skills… however you refer to them, soft skills are critical to career success. Research conducted by Harvard University, the Carnegie Foundation and Stanford Research Center concluded that 85% of job success comes from having well‐developed soft and people skills, and only 15% of job success comes from technical skills and knowledge.

So how can we ensure that skills are being taught in every CTE class?

Realityworks created its own program: the RealCareer™ Employability Skills Program. Through our research, talking with educators and confirming information with business owners, we found a lot of great ways to not only engage students in this topic but to help them carry these skills on in life.

We know that adding additional topics to your curriculum can be scary. We also know educators do not have a lot of time and sometimes are unsure how to start incorporating this topic into their program.

Use the 5 ideas below to incorporate soft skill development into your classroom without stress.

Keep in mind, these ideas could work for different CTE areas, including engineering, nursing, Family and Consumer Sciences, welding and business. The goal is to start addressing these skills in your classroom!

  1. Create Conversation Cards. Write a variety of conversation topics onto note cards: “Describe the last book you read,” “Discuss the previous assignment and how you handled the questions,” or “What do you want to do after high school?” Then take 5 minutes of each class to pair students up with one conversation card and have them discuss the topic. Use this activity to teach communication skills and show your students how to converse with their peers.

Great for: ANY PATHWAY!  Make your cards about topics in class or make them general!

  1. Bring in guest speakers. Ask community members in your area of education to speak to the class on soft skills topics. Recommended questions include: “What soft skills are important to your profession?” “What soft skills have you used in the last week at work?” “How can working on soft skills get me a job?”

Great for: ANY PATHWAY!  Invite someone in that has a career your students might want someday.

  1. Take time to reflect. If you are working on specific soft skills, make sure you give students a few minutes at the end of class to write about what went well, what could be improved on and what they noticed. For example, if they are working in a group, they are developing the ability to work on a team. Have them reflect about what it is like working in a team. If they just presented on a topic to their classmates, have them reflect on how they felt presenting, what could have made the presentation go better and what they did right.

Great for: ANY PATHWAY!  Reflection time is working on critical thinking – one of the big soft skills needed in today’s work place.

  1. Create responsibility in the classroom. This could mean:
    1. Having students use day planners to help with time management (encourage blocking time for homework)
    2. Having students take care of a plant for the semester – plant it, water it, feed it and care for it. While simple, this is great for responsibility!

Great for: ANY PATHWAY! No matter what class you teach, your students need to show up on time, prepared and ready to listen and participate in class. These are all soft skills.

  1. Get the RealCareer Employability Skills Program. This program is filled with activities that hit on the KEY soft skills needed to succeed. It includes a full curriculum, workbooks, scenario cards and presentation slides. This out-of-the-box program makes it SIMPLE to incorporate soft skills in ANY CTE pathway.

Missed our webinar, “5 Ways to Address Soft Skill Development in any CTE Classroom?” Watch the recording here.

3 Reasons You Should Be Using Your ‘Lesson-At-A-Glance’ Curricula Feature

By Denise Bodart, Realityworks RealCare Product Manager

As a teacher, your lesson plan is your road map. It’s how you plan what your students need to learn and how you ensure that learning will be done effectively during class time. It’s your go-to resource yourself short on planning time or when you find yourself in sudden need of a substitute teacher.

We understand the importance of a good lesson plan. That’s why we developed a lesson template for every curriculum we offer (and we offer a lot – almost all of our hands-on learning aids for Career and Technical Education include curriculum).

Do you use RealCare Baby® to teach child development topics? Do you use our Food Safety Kit to teach culinary skills? Do you use our nursing training tools to address basic nursing skills? Each of those products includes a robust curriculum, and each lesson includes a Lesson-At-A-Glance feature.

Here are 3 reasons you should be using the Lesson-At-A-Glance feature of your curriculum.

1. Use it to save time. 
As a teacher, your time is invaluable. The Lesson-At-A-Glance is your quick-reference guide to each lesson. It tells you what will be covered, what materials you’ll need, how to prepare and how long each lesson will take to teach.

2. Use it to quickly prepare a substitute teacher. 
The Lesson-At-A-Glance feature lists the activities, required materials, preparation steps and teaching time for every lesson. Bookmark this feature for your next sub and they’ll know exactly what they need to do for every period.

3. Use it to customize your program. 
We know you’re picking and choosing from a variety of sources to make your lesson the best it can be. Use the Lesson-At-A-Glance feature to quickly skim the covered topics and required lesson materials, and hone in on the topics that will complement your plan the best.

Wondering if your product came with curriculum? Do you need to verify that a product you’re considering includes curriculum? Visit our website, or contact us for details. We’re happy to discuss your unique program and help you determine the best way to use your Realityworks curriculum.

College and Career Ready?

By Denise Bodart, Realityworks RealCare Product Manager

In the last 20 years, standards-based education has been focused on the goal of creating a literate and economically competitive workforce. There are a host of national and state-specific educational standards that are intended to provide a framework for educators to use to build a curriculum that is explicit, relevant, and successful. That’s where we can help.

Our new product line of nursing task trainers, simulators and models come with comprehensive ready-to-use curricula. Each individual curriculum includes detailed facilitator instructions, handouts, slide presentations and assessment tools that align to several sets of health science-related standards.  To make using our curricular resources even more user friendly, we have completed an alignment to several sets of health science-related standards.

The National Health Science Standards, developed by the National Consortium for Health Science Education provide a clear and consistent understanding of industry and post-secondary expectations for health science teachers. The cross-walk document provided at this link identifies which standards the various curricula align to.

The Common Career Technical Core (CCTC) is a state-led initiative to establish a set of rigorous, high-quality standards for Career Technical Education.  We have identified specific CCTC standards that correlate to each of our health science curricula as well. To access this alignment document, click here.

Helping students learn the skills they need to become successful future healthcare workers is our goal.  We are happy to help provide standards-based curricular resources that ensure students are learning the right skills.

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Which RealCare® Baby do you have?

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Watch this video for more information on when it’s time to trade in your RealCare Baby:

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We Need to be Preparing Our Students for These 13 Careers (Starting Now)

We all want to prepare students for careers they’ll love and thrive in. But with globalization and technological advances, is it possible to predict what the future of jobs will look like?

While some of today’s jobs will soon be replaced by automation and new careers will be created, two skills will benefit students no matter what their path looks like—specialized training and a love of learning.

“It’s not necessarily all about technology jobs,” says Nicholas Wyman, author of Job U and chief executive officer of the Institute for Workplace Skills and Innovation. “That said, regardless of any pathway, skills are going up—not down.”

The Business Roundtable reports that many trade positions, such as welders, energy service technicians, computer technicians, electricians, and mechanics, remain unfilled because workers lacked specialized skills. There are also acute shortages in STEM occupations requiring specialized training such as cybersecurity, data analytics, and financial services.

Because the workplace is evolving, it’s also important that students “learn how to learn.” In other words, students need to be able to acquire new information and evaluate it on their own, says Ed Gordon, author of Future Jobs and president of Imperial Consulting in Chicago.

“As computers take over more of the mindless work, the work that individuals are doing to do in every business sector is going to require higher-level thinking skills,” he says.

Just how teachers should advise students on career paths depends a lot on each individual kid’s educational aspirations and passions. However, there are some jobs that will have more openings and greater long-term security when compared to others. We’ve rounded up 13 that are projected to grow in the near future as well as lesson ideas to help prepare students for careers early on.

Read about all 13 ideas here.

Extracted from original blog post by We Are Teachers.