Recruiting the Next Generation | – ARC/STSA

Recruiting the Next Generation

An Immersive, Interprofessional Case Study

By Kim Qualls, MS, OTD, OTR/L, Occupational Therapy Assistant Program Director, Madisonville Community College

For the last several years, the allied health program at Madisonville Community College (MCC) has hosted open houses for local high school students to learn of the many healthcare positions available to study. When asked which profession interests them, most high schoolers state nursing. As allied health faculty, however, we know nursing is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to professions available. We were in need of a better way to clearly and effectively communicate the diversity of such roles MCC offers.

The allied health and nursing faculty at MCC began brainstorming ways to increase high schoolers’ understanding of healthcare programs. To captivate more than 125 students, more than a basic presentation was needed. We had to show — not tell — the many different roles they could play in this field.

Simulation Was the Answer

MCC’s interprofessional demonstration for high schoolers was featured in the local newspaper, the Madisonville Messenger.

With this in mind, the faculty created an immersive, hands-on demonstration for high schoolers at MCC’s Interprofessional Simulation Hospital at Baptist Health of Madisonville and Simulation Home. Students were provided a brief medical history of the patient, Carl, in advance. Upon arriving at MCC’s Health Campus, an informational card was provided, identifying participating faculty and students with color-coded badges to denote their roles. The unfolding case study walked small groups of students through the Simulation Home, showing occupational therapy and physical therapy interventions with Carl.

Carl was recovering from a hip replacement in the home and fell as the case unfolded. The students walked through every possible step involved in the accident, beginning with the 911 call for the paramedic. College students leading the simulation addressed the situation with real urgency, which caught visiting students’ attention quickly.

High school students watched as MCC paramedic students transported the patient to the hospital.

The paramedics transported Carl to the ambulance and students followed to the emergency room. They observed a mock surgery with surgical technology students, then entered a recovery room with medical lab technician, respiratory therapy and nursing students. The simulation closed by observing occupational therapy assistant and physical therapy assistant students prepare the patient to return home with inpatient therapy.

This exercise was a much more effective and exciting way to demonstrate the paths high schoolers can pursue. The day of the event, visiting students and their teachers had a chance to not only see what MCC’s allied health and nursing programs offer, but also to talk with MCC students in the healthcare programs. Making this connection added a greater value to the higher education available at the community college level. There are few universities with the quality of simulation facilities that we have at MCC, and we were proud to show students what opportunities could be in their future.

A Learning Experience for All

High school students look on as mock surgery is performed on the patient.

The benefits of this program extended beyond visiting students. Our college students do not interact with each other often, as their studies do not allow for much downtime, nor do they live on campus. This program allowed them to collaborate as peers and practice their work as they would in a real setting. They learned how to teach techniques to someone unfamiliar with the process, which is much different than teaching a fellow student. Our students also gained a better understanding of their peers’ skills, teaching them to communicate among professions for the greater good of the patient.

The program was considered a success, with more than 125 students from six counties in attendance. Teachers from each school reported their students’ excitement and interest in allied health positions after completing the course. Some indicated it was the best planned recruitment visit they had ever experienced.

Do It Yourself: Advice for Starting a Simulation Program

The simulation allowed local high school students to learn about career opportunities in a tangible way.

A program of this nature would not have been possible without planning and an immense amount of teamwork. For those interested in creating a program of their own, an all-hands-on-deck attitude is key, with each department being willing to share the spotlight. Allowing college students enough time to practice and feel comfortable in their roles, and having an individual manage the flow and timing of the day are critical factors to consider.

At the end of the day, it’s our job to recruit the next generation of healthcare professionals. Doing so in a manner that gives prospective students a real-world taste of available careers, plus involving current students in a meaningful way, places everyone on the same page and moving forward in the right direction.

Our MCC interprofessional simulation program came to life with the efforts of my colleagues, including:

  • Surgical Technology – Jeff Bidwell, MA, CST, CSFA, CSA, KCSA, FAST, and Aaron Morris, CST, CSA, KCSA
  • Respiratory Therapy – Tina Siddon, MA, RRT, and Kelly Hayes, MS, RRT
  • Physical Therapist Assistant – Stephanie Taylor, MAE, PTA, and Amanda F. Skeen, PT, ACCE
  • Occupational Therapy Assistant – Misty Burton, MS, OTR/L
  • Radiography – Tonia Gibson, MS, RT(R) and Paula Lange, MS,RT(R)(M)(QM)
  • Paramedic – Tim Martin, MDiv, EMT-P
  • Medical Laboratory Technician – Amanda Payton, MSHS, MLS(ASCP)
  • Nursing – Shannon Allen, MSN, RN, CHSE and Loretta Elder, DPN, RN, CNE, CHSE

Interested in starting an interprofessional simulation program of your own? Check out the pre-brief linked here that was provided to high school students visiting MCC.  


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