Missouri AHEC Case Study: How To Teach Students From a Distance
With the constant changes in the healthcare industry and increase in requirements for the CTE Health Science Cluster, many CTE administrators and instructors are in search of ways to better prepare students. As a curriculum provider for Health Science programs, we talk to hundreds of teachers and administrators about this challenge. When looking to overcome this, educators often ask us questions like: “How are other teachers and schools using HealthCenter21?” and “Will HealthCenter21 work for my program?”
Our goal is to give teachers more time to spend with students by making sure HealthCenter21 is:
- Easy to implement
- Flexible and customizable
- Continually up to date with standards
Jessica Wentworth at the Northeast Missouri AHEC (NEMO AHEC) is a great example of a health science instructor succeeding with HealthCenter21. She uses the curriculum to address the many challenges faced in meeting the needs of health science students in rural communities.
What's an AHEC?
Before we share how Jessica is using HealthCenter21, it’s important to understand her situation. Missouri Area Health Education Centers (AHECs) are a nonprofit organization that focuses on serving rural communities throughout the state. A large focus of the organization is to encourage students to pursue careers in healthcare.
The National AHEC Organization has over 300 offices and centers across the United States. Though every area is unique, the centers and offices all work together toward a common goal of providing the best resources possible for their students.
One great thing about the Missouri AHECs is that they offer students free, individualized career planning sessions to help them plan out and prepare for entrance exams and other important steps in becoming a healthcare professional. This directly aligns with what Jessica considers to be success for her program:
“I think what we would consider a success for us is if these students decide to pursue a healthcare career... AHECs want to help students get connected to careers and then come back and serve in their rural communities. It’s kind of a full circle.”
How the NEMO AHEC Uses HealthCenter21 to Teach Students from a Distance
A big challenge that Jessica and other Missouri AHEC staff members face when trying to accomplish this goal of inspiring the next generation of rural healthcare workers is the fact that they are in a rural area.
In the Northeast Missouri region where Jessica works, their AHEC covers 21 counties in the state… that’s quite a number of students spread a pretty long distance. Jessica and her colleagues are used to travelling in order to reach their students.
“I drive between close to two and a half to three hours sometimes, just to go to a school and either provide a workshop or something like that. I feel that’s pretty common in most of our regions.”
This not only makes it difficult for the AHEC staff members, but students are often unable to attend specific workshops depending on the distance and timing of the sessions. HealthCenter21 has been a big help in ensuring students have the right resources to continue their education.
“We use HealthCenter21 to really bridge the gap and to be a helpful resource for students we are not able to visit on a regular basis.”
It used to be very difficult for the different regions to share resources. Before HealthCenter21, the offices would set up a catalog on a website of what health science textbooks and print resources were available at the local libraries. Other teachers would contact them and they would mail out the resources! Jessica said HealthCenter21 has greatly helped decrease this, since the information is all digital. “If a student shows interest then we can just get them the information to access the [HealthCenter21] courses and go from there.”
Using HealthCenter21 to Help Students Prepare for HOSA Competitions
A large group of the healthcare students Jessica works with are members of HOSA, and they want to help the students in the best way possible. Many students are interested in taking knowledge tests through state-hosted competitions. According to Jessica, HealthCenter21 is a big resource used by the HOSA students:
“Teachers mainly request to use HealthCenter21 so they can prepare on their own. They can select modules that are appropriate and the students can complete the topics at their own pace. Because some of our HOSA clubs are a pretty decent size, it gives that instructor time to focus on more students and the whole group, as opposed to just helping one person at a time.”
Before HealthCenter21 was introduced, there was a challenge for students trying to prepare for the knowledge tests. There was often a lack of resources with up to date information, since the healthcare field is constantly growing and changing. As Jessica put it, “HealthCenter21 stays really current and helps students in the best way possible for those exams.”
Advice for Other Health Science Technology Instructors
Since Jessica was once new to using HealthCenter21, she is happy to give advice to other health science instructors. Since may health science instructors spent time in the industry and transitioned to teaching, it can be difficult to try a new resource in the classroom. To those educators who are nervous to include digital and e-learning curriculum, Jessica has some encouraging thoughts:
“Overall HealthCenter21 is very user-friendly. I have found it very helpful and can tell our students and teachers in schools statewide find it helpful. It’s always nerve-wracking to start a new aspect in technology or an area you’re not familiar with. There is a bit of a learning curve, but the customer service for HealthCenter21 has been really helpful. There were times I called and ask for advice or help getting started and they have been phenomenal.”
If you'd like to learn more about how Jessica and the other educators at the Northeast Missouri AHEC are having success with HealthCenter21, read the full case study here: Missouri AHEC Case Study - Dramatic Success for Rural Communities