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New PGCC health studies facility stimulates learning


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Photo by Alexis A. Goring. Prince George’s Community College students Autumn Jamieson, left, and Kristen Pope practice taking vital signs on a manikin patient at the college’s new state-of-the-art Center for Health Studies, which opened in August.

Photo by Alexis A. Goring. Prince George’s Community College students Autumn Jamieson, left, and Kristen Pope practice taking vital signs on a manikin patient at the college’s new state-of-the-art Center for Health Studies, which opened in August.

Published on: Friday, March 01, 2013

By Alexis A. Goring

A new day has dawned for students studying health care professions at Prince George’s Community College in Largo.

Students are closer to achieving their career goals through use of the college’s new state-of-the-art Center for Health Studies facility — equipped with the latest technology to give the competitive edge for students seeking high-demand careers in the Washington metropolitan area.

The state of Maryland and Prince George’s County provided more than $43 million in funding for the construction project, which began in July 2010 and was opened for the fall semester in August 2012. The building covers 100,000 square feet and has a polished exterior and an equally impressive interior design. But the building is more than impressive — it is laden with resources to enable more than 1,000 students to receive education and training in health professions.

“The college partnered with state and county governments to create the Center for Health Studies in response to a growing demand for trained healthcare providers,” said Angela Anderson, dean of health sciences, in a press release.

Photo by Alexis A. Goring. Assistant professor Andrew Bluestein demonstrates life-saving skills on a manikin.

Photo by Alexis A. Goring. Assistant professor Andrew Bluestein demonstrates life-saving skills on a manikin.

“Opening the new center allows the college to expand and enhance existing clinical programs and develop new areas of specialization to address workforce shortages,” Anderson added.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has stated “employment career growth for those in the healthcare field will grow significantly between 2010 and 2020. Job opportunities are expected to grow by 26 percent for registered nurses, 32 percent for pharmacy technicians, 28 percent for radiologic technologists and 33 percent for emergency medical technicians.”

The Center for Health Studies is on a mission to address that marketplace demand — training students in a wide range of healthcare careers by providing class and laboratory space for new programs such as medical assistant, physician’s assistant and surgical technology.

One feature at the center that students have said they love is state-of-the-art simulation lab, which is purposed to prepare them for clinical experiences in real-world hospital settings. The center includes 26 of these labs.

“I love it,” said Latoya Beaumont, who is a first-year student enrolled in the paramedic program at the center. “We had our first orientation at the old building and it was kind of crammed, and I heard rumors that we were going to moving from room to room and all over campus. And now everything is in one central location so I don’t have to worry about anything.”

According to a press release, the “high fidelity simulation manikins used in the labs are realistic, full-body simulators with complete airway breathing, cardiac and circulation functionality. Programmed with detailed medical scenarios by the faculty, manikins can demonstrate coughing, wheezing, bleeding from multiple sites, secretions, eye movement, seizures and convulsions. Students follow the simulated patients through a variety of settings including pre-hospital care, emergency department and intensive care units.”

Andrew Bluestein has been a faculty member, instructing students in the Paramedic Program, teaching both didactic and laboratory skills.

“We have the mock ambulance to give them more of a realistic setting of doing skills in the back of a confined area. We have the residential area because we run calls from people’s houses, we even have a little attic room upstairs,” he said. “So to do the skills in the classroom is one thing, but then to literally go out into the field and do the same skills in a cramped loft attic that’s 105 degrees in cramped quarters — it’s a completely different thing, so we’re trying to get them used to what they have in the field.”

Bluestein creates “every different kind of scenario” his students can possibly experience outside, inside, in cars, bathrooms, attics and kitchens to prepare them for real world situations.

“It really doesn’t help them to have a nice sterile area to do all these skills,” Bluestein said. “When they go out into the field, they’re in very challenging places.”

In addition to the state-of-the-art equipment and real-life scenarios, another key to the success of these students are the instructors who are well-versed in their trade.

“My instructors have been chiefs, they have been captains, they have been lieutenants, and they’ve worked up the ranks. So when it comes to knowing what I want to do later on, if I want to work up the ranks of my division, I know that they have that experience,” said Beaumont. “I mean one instructor came off an ambulance last night and was telling us about a call, that’s pretty cool. I mean she’s teaching me what she did last night. It’s an awesome experience.”

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