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

By Emily Kuhn, Communications Specialist for Realityworks, Inc.

CNA student using Realityworks' Geriatric Simulator, a wearable age simulation suit that enables students to experience a variety of age-related physical  and visual challenges.
Above, a CNA student wears Realityworks’ Geriatric Simulator in class as part of a unit on empathy and sensitivity toward elderly patients. The wearable suit simulates a variety of age-related physical challenges.

This post was originally published in the October 2017 issue of ACTE’s Techniques magazine. It has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness. 

Healthcare educators are changing the way they teach patient care skills, and for good reason. U.S. demand for healthcare expected to grow twice as fast as the national economy in the next eight years, prompting concerns about unfilfilled healthcare jobs. What’s more, older Americans are retiring in droves; this 2018 study projects that within just a few decades, older people will outnumber children for the first time in U.S. history.

As demand for nursing and geriatric care increases, so will the importance of using learning aids that truly engage new generations of healthcare students — students with shorter attention spans, better technical 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.”

Bobby Scanlon is a nurse educator with Dove Healthcare in West Central Wisconsin. With over two decades of experience teaching geriatric care, she knows how important it is to teach her students empathy and compassion toward the elderly. Scanlon regularly emphasizes the interactions her students have with residents during clinicals and encourages them to observe and consider why residents behaved in certain ways.

However, those skills can be difficult to teach without giving students the chance to experience for themselves what their patients are going through. When Scanlon discovered the Geriatric Simulator, she didn’t hesitate to try it in her classroom – and saw immediate results.

“Change can be hard, but when I see something and it excites me, then I’m going to try to incorporate it in class as soon as possible,” said Scanlon. “With this simulator, students don’t need to wait until they get to the floor to see what’s happening with the residents – they can feel and experience it for themselves. And what’s more, it brings excitement into the classroom.”

The Geriatric Medication Management Kit is an interactive learning ad that enables students to experience a loss of tactile sensation and visual impairments while trying to manage multiple prescriptions. Like the Geriatric Simulator, it was created to help healthcare students understand the unique challenges so many elderly people face every day. Taking multiple medications is the norm for most older adults, after all; a 2017 study showed that 87% of seniors take more than a single prescription drug and almost 40% take 5 or more.

According to Carlson, tools like wearable simulators and interactive learning aids 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.”

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October 2017, and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness. 

Ready to learn more about the tools and resources that are available for teaching empathy and geriatric sensitivity to today’s 21st Century healthcare students? Click here.

How to Choose the Best Simulation for Your Welding Program

Note: This article was originally published in the May 2018 issue of Techniques. ACTE members can read the complete article on page 8 of the current issue. Not a member? Click here to join and access this monthly career and technical education publication.

THE DRIVE FOR CREDENTIALING IN CAREER AND TECHNICAL EDUCATION (CTE) HAS BEEN A BOON
for students, inspiring educators to rethink how they prepare students for high-demand, high-skill and high-wage jobs. CTE program administrators strive to hire certified instructors, and funding is often based on the number of students to achieve certification in high-demand, high-wage and high-skill fields.

In the past, this might have meant purchasing high-cost equipment to mimic the workplace. Students would train on those products and perhaps become proficient. But now preparing students for these jobs is less about equipment, and more about the skills necessary to move into a career in a chosen field.

The Cost of Hands-on Learning
When you think about a hands-on learning resource for welding programs, you might consider that welding is hands-on by nature. Often, welding students gather at a distance, all dressed in protective equipment and darkening helmets, as they observe an instructor demonstrate a very intricate technique. Students are expected to watch, understand and then practice. ­is can be a very costly endeavor; students learning to weld can go through materials very quickly, and they don’t always develop a deep understanding of what they are doing. Simulation, in comparison, allows students to
experience welding in a way they can’t in the booth — learning, for example, why a work angle is critical to creating a weld that will hold. Simulation allows them to experience and improve the skills they need to become certified welders.

Simulation
Simulation is a method for practice and learning. It is a technique (not a technology) to replace and amplify real experiences with guided ones. ­rough simulation, students can replicate the real-world welding experience and become immersed in an interactive fashion. is results in a deeper understanding of the necessary skills, and it enables them to transfer those skills even faster. In welding, students can master techniques like work angle, travel angle and speed in a safe environment before they enter a welding booth.

Studies show that students who learn to weld in a virtual environment learn faster and more efficiently (Stone, McLaurin, Zhong & Watts, 2013). To create a quality weld, you need to master speed. Welding procedure specifications require a welder to perform an optimal weld at a specified number of inches per minute. If you were told to move your hand from left to right at 11 inches per minute, how would you know how to do that? How would you know if you were going too fast, too slow or just right? You would practice and practice, examining your welds for defects and hoping you would eventually gain mastery.

In the virtual world, students are guided so that they gain muscle memory from the start. They receive immediate feedback and are given the opportunity to alter their speed if necessary. Once student welders have mastered their technique in the virtual world, they can move on to real equipment and welding metal. Making these resources available to many students at once is crucial to the success of the welding workforce.

ACTE members, log in to read the complete article on page 8 of the May Techniques issue. Not a member? Click here to join.

Diane Ross is the education development manager for Realityworks, Inc., where she works with states and school districts to develop better programs, products and pathways in career and technical education programs. She has a master’s in secondary education from Marshall University and is an advisor for the National Standards for FACS Education. Email her at diane.ross@realityworks.com.

 

Realityworks Recognizes Arizona Welding Instructor with CTE Champion Award

We’re so excited to announce the recipient of our CTE Champion Award, Marana High School Welding Instructor Kenton Webb. Product manager Jamey McIntosh presented the award to Webb at the Association for Career & Technical Education’s CareerTech VISION 2018 Conference in San Antonio, Texas on November 30. The award recognizes the remarkable methods Webb has implemented to engage his welding students in viable career opportunities and help them develop in-demand job skills. Those methods include using the guideWELD® VR welding simulator and guideWELD® LIVE real welding guidance system.

“My ultimate goal is to help these kids get a successful career so they’re not walking away from high school with just a diploma – they’re walking away with a skill they can use,” said Webb. “I’m humbled by this award. It’s nice to get recognized for the work you put in.

About 250 students participate in Marana High School’s welding program annually, an increase of almost 200 students from when Webb began the program 10 years ago. In the last nine years, the program has come to be one of the premier high school welding shops in the state. First-year students use the guideWELD VR welding simulator to hone basic welding skills in a safe, virtual environment, then use the guideWELD LIVE real welding guidance system in the welding booth to understand proper welding techniques and master bad habits. Webb also challenges his students to identify and assess their own welds using the RealCareer™ Weld Defects Kit.

“What I saw and heard when I visited Kenton’s classroom made his passion for educating clear,” said McIntosh. “He knows that being able to help his students truly understand where an in-demand skill like welding could take them is key to engaging them in welding training.”

Realityworks’ CTE Champion award is awarded to educators in programs related to Welding & Trade Skills, Family & Consumer Sciences, Agriculture and Health Science. Learn more about Realityworks by visiting www.realityworks.com.

Sneak Peeks and Presentations Coming Your Way at VISION 2018

We’re getting excited to see everyone at  ACTE’s CareerTech VISION 2018. This year we will be introducing new innovative learning tools as well as giving you a peek at products that will be coming in 2019. We’ve recently added new products to our Agriculture, Family and Consumer Sciences, and Health Sciences pathways, including:

Bovine Breeder artificial insemination simulator with pregnancy palpation

Twin Pregnancy Model KitDiabetes Education Kit

Coming in 2019, Realityworks will be launching:

  • Bovine Injection
  • Child Care Center Design Kit
  • Cow Anatomy Flip Chart
  • Ostomy Trainer
  • New Anatomical models
  • and so much more!

Not only will we be giving attendees a sneak peek at new products, we will also be giving 6 presentations this year.

Make sure you stop by booth 723 and try out all of our interactive training tools for yourself!

Perkins Reauthorization Highlights

By Samantha Forehand, Realityworks Marketing Communications Manager

We have been diligently watching the Senate’s progress on reauthorizing the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins). Passed by the Senate and the House just last week, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act aims to improve Career and Technical Education (CTE). As it moves to the President’s desk, we wanted to help our educators stay informed on what this means to them.

Accountability is a key factor
The revised bill has a theme of accountability and data collection. It will have performance indicators for CTE students and will take current requirements up a notch. The bill aims to strengthen the accountability and may require states to meet minimum requirements for funding though the requirements are not exactly laid out yet.

Limited bureaucracy from Education Department
Previously the secretary of education could negotiate goals with each state for CTE program plans. With this new bill the secretary still must approve the plans, but no longer will be involved in the process of creating those plans.

Flexibility to support local economic needs
CTE aims to bolster the workforce and as we all know, each city and even state have different economic needs. The beauty of CTE is that industry representatives can work together with education leaders to identify the skills gap seen in the local economy and help craft school programs to ensure students can take on careers that are needed. Each area will have different requirements and the bill is flexible in that matter.

Incorporation of employability skills
Employability skills and soft skills have really been buzzwords for education the past years, and the mention of them in the bill comes as no surprise. These skills are key in the alignment of CTE and careers and can be incorporated into all programs of study. The revised bill includes the integration of technical skills with interpersonal and organizational skills, communication in the workplace and how to effectively work with others.

The bill is now sitting on the President’s desk and could be signed any day. Some of the above could change. Regardless of these factors that stand out to us, this is a very promising sign of how our nation truly supports CTE.

Looking for more information?  Check out the links below:

2018 Catalogs Are Here!

It’s here — our 2018 Catalogs are ready to be shared! They are full of details on all the learning aids and resources we offer for teaching family and consumer sciences, health sciences, agriculture, trade skills, and more.

There are also several new items in our 2018 FACS catalog, including:

We offer a variety of exciting tools (and curriculum!) you can use to engage your students and help them develop skills in human services, and education and training.

Realityworks is continuing to develop new tools you can use to engage your students and help them develop clinical nursing skills and soft, patient-focused skills. New in our 2018 Health Science catalog:

Our 2018 Agriculture catalog features tools you can use to engage your students and help them develop skills in animal and vet science, plant science, manufacturing and more. Newly featured this year are:

This year our 2018 Trade Skills catalog includes many great tools to develop skills in welding, electrical wiring, manufacturing and more.

  • Pathway packages to jump-start your welding, electrical or advanced manufacturing courses
  • Portable workstations to keep classrooms organized and provide more workspace
  • New webinars and other opportunities for professional development

We offer a variety of exciting tools (and curriculum!) you can use to engage your students and help them develop their skills. Take time to check out these great products, get a quote, or place an order online today!

Realityworks to Unveil New Agriculture and Health Science Training Tools at National Career & Technical Education Conference

Models and curriculum for key job skill development will be on display at one of the world’s largest gatherings of CTE professionals

Eau Claire, Wis. (November 30, 2017) – Educators and industry leaders attending the Association for Career & Technical Education’s CareerTech VISION 2017 Conference in Nashville next week will get the first look at new learning aids for agriculture education and health science from Realityworks, Inc. A Midwest-based company that has been developing innovative educational tools for over two decades, Realityworks’ new anatomical models address job skill development in two in-demand fields: agriculture education and nursing training.

“Educators have told us that they need new ways to provide targeted skills training and prepare their students for careers,” said Realityworks President and CEO Timm Boettcher. “These new tools and curriculum were designed to help engage their students and prepare them for success in the workforce.”

Realityworks will give attendees a sneak peak of two expanded lines. New products on display include human anatomy models that teach structures of the body, wearable simulators for training health occupations students on measuring blood pressure and developing empathy for patients with hemiplegia. Realityworks will also be unveiling additional models for teaching animal and plant systems.

All of these new anatomical models will be showcased alongside products and programs for skill development in other CTE pathways. They include:

– A virtual reality welding simulator, electrical wiring kit and other welding and trade skills resources
– Injection training arms, geriatric simulators and other health science resources
– Animal models, plant models and other agriculture education resources
– Infant simulators, human development models and other health and human services resources
– An employability skills teaching toolkit to help students develop soft skills

“We strive to help educators create interactive, hands-on learning environments where students can explore career pathways and engage in active learning opportunities,” said Boettcher. “Our newest tools are detailed and interactive, and are designed to help educators engage, impact and educate today’s students.”

ACTE’s CareerTech VISION 2017 Conference will be held in Ryman Hall C of the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, TN on December 7 and 8. Realityworks’ products and programs will be on display at Booth #401.

For more information on Realityworks’ products and programs, visit http://realityworks.com/. For a full presentation schedule and additional conference details, visit https://www.careertechvision.com/.

About Realityworks, Inc. 

Established 20 years ago to better address teen pregnancy prevention, parenting skills, child abuse and neglect through educational products, Realityworks, Inc. is dedicated to creating experiential learning tools that engage students, teach needed skills and provide career exploration opportunities. Most famous for their RealCare Baby infant simulator (formerly known as Baby Think it Over or BTIO), Realityworks now provides comprehensive learning solutions that pair curriculum with hands-on learning aids, student activities and assessment tools to create innovative learning environments. These solutions are used in middle, secondary and post-secondary schools to address a variety of Career & Technical Education pathways, including health & human services, health sciences, welding and trade skills, agriculture education, sex education, business education and more. With simulators in 62 percent of U.S. school districts and programs in more than 90 countries around the world, Realityworks has made a worldwide impact. For more information, visit www.realityworks.com, or call toll-free 800-830-1416.

Top 5 Ways to Interact with Realityworks at CareerTech VISION 2017

5. Check out our Presentations

4. Find out what it feels like to age

3. See how fast you can put together our Cow Model!

2. Try your hand at virtual welding

1. Learn all about the new products we have in store for 2018!

We’re going to be launching new Agriculture and Health Science training tools in the coming year. Make sure to come visit for a sneak peek at the new line-up!

Stop by booth 401 to learn more about how our innovative learning tools for skills training can enhance your programs!

Realityworks is Thankful for…

The team at Realityworks has so much to be grateful for this year. Here are the words that came to mind when asked what we are must thankful for this Thanksgiving:

A few team members shared more about what they are grateful for:

“I am thankful for friends, old and new.” – Sarah Philen, Account Manager

“I am thankful for my co-workers, some of the most supportive and hard-working people I know!” – Casey Kooiman, International Business Consultant

“I am thankful for all of the regular things…like kids, dogs and a warm house. But there are those that do not have what I have, and I am thankful for caring people who GIVE at this time of year so others can have also.” – Christine Medina, Account Services Representative

“I am most thankful for getting to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with my family.” – Lisa Rolf, Marketing Intern

“I am thankful for all of the dedicated educators around the world that take the time to care, nurture, inspire, and prepare our youth for a successful life journey.” – Timmothy Boettcher, President & CEO

Safe, Spark-Free Welding Training

Over 50 percent of U.S. products require welding, including race cars, bridges, ships, computers, medical devices, farm equipment, gas pipelines, skyscrapers, automobiles, train tracks, airplanes and scooters.

Welding Training

Welding training programs are effective in many settings. One of the places these programs can be successful is correctional facilities.

Studies have shown that inmates who take part in education programs have a 43% lower recidivism rate than those who don’t.

What’s more, every dollar spent on funding prison education programs can drastically reduce incarceration costs in the first three years post-release.

Here are two more statistics for you: The U.S. will need 400,000 welders by 2025. Right now, 81% of manufacturers cannot find enough skilled workers.

Safe & Effective

The guideWELD® VR welding simulator is a safe, effective way to teach students and inmates alike valuable welding skills they can use to get a job in the manufacturing field.

Sparks are not generated. Internet is not required. All you need is a computer and a power source.

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See the guideWELD VR welding simulator in action.

For a limited time, you can SAVE $1,000 on the guideWELD VR welding simulator and guideWELD LIVE real welding guidance system. Click here to learn more.