New Pre-Health Maymester Gives Students Valuable Experience

From left: Taylor Briggs, '16; Tara Mahon, '16; Lauren Stull, '17; Nick Viazanko, '17; Nick Heiserman, '16; Alex Pool, '15; Spencer Gibbs Kibbe, '15; and Jordan Hempfling, '16
Pre-health Maymester participants from left: Taylor Briggs, '16; Tara Mahon, '16; Lauren Stull, '17; Nick Viazanko, '17; Nick Heiserman, '16; Alex Pool, '15; Spencer Gibbs Kibbe, '15; and Jordan Hempfling, '16.

June 12, 2014

Eight Albion College students with medical-school and physician-assistant aspirations picked up important clinical hours of hands-on work last month—hours needed for graduate school admission—in a new collaboration between the Institute for Healthcare Professions and Kellogg Community College.

More important in the end, though, was the opportunity to simply work with patients.

“It’s definitely been something I wasn’t expecting, in a good way,” said Nick Viazanko, ’17, who is pursuing a biochemistry and pre-med track. “You do everything—from bedpans all the way to transports. It’s been a lot of fun to get to know the patients, too.”

Essentially a pilot “Maymester” program, students applied for a one-half-unit health practicum and were selected by the institute after an interview process. The students enrolled in KCC’s three-week Competency-Evaluated Nursing Assistant (CENA) course and, after two weeks of class at KCC, spent the final week administering care to patients at Heartland Health Care Center in Battle Creek.

The students came away equipped to apply for and take the licensing exam that allows them to gain employment as a nursing assistant and attain more hours of direct patient care. As a barometer, Western Michigan University’s well-regarded graduate physician assistant (PA) program includes 1,000 hours of care as an admission prerequisite.

“KCC doesn’t usually have a course in May, and they were willing to do this for us,” said Marikay Dobbins, R.N., health professions advisor for the institute. “The students are getting exposure to front-line, hands-on health care. It is a very different experience for our students as opposed to job-shadowing experiences.” Job shadowing, she adds, does not count toward direct patient-care hours.

Making new friends doesn’t exactly count, either, but for the students that overshadowed the CENA program’s nuts and bolts soon after their clinicals began.

“I took the class just for the job hours aspect, but the personal aspect surprised me more—all the one-on-one contact, the relationships and getting to know them,” said Spencer Gibbs Kibbe, ’15, a biochemistry major who is applying to PA school.

Biology major Taylor Briggs, ’16, who is interning this summer at an optometry office in Cadillac, said she was surprised by “the willingness of KCC to cooperate and give time and resources for us.” That, and all the patients she got to know.

“All the hands-on work, I didn’t think I’d get this much out of it,” Briggs said. “I now know the 10 residents I was in charge of—what they like and don’t like, all their little quirks. I think they got to know me, too, and I think they’re sad to see me go. In a way, that is the most rewarding thing.”