South Florida Hospital News
Sunday September 27, 2020
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August 2020 - Volume 17 - Issue 2
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Miami Dade College Medical Campus Facing 'Much Different World'

There isn't a phase of life that hasn't been affected by the COVID-19 virus, and colleges are just one entity that have had to learn how to adjust over the past few months. Dr. Bryan Stewart, president of Miami Dade College's Medical Campus, agrees that "it has indeed been challenging."

He said the timing of the shutdown in March was a positive, because the College had almost completed spring semester and many students had therefore already done their clinical rotations and were progressing toward graduation in May. The challenge, however, "was our faculty reacting – which they did so magnificently – to remote teaching. It was a bit of a shock, but we basically shut down for about a two-week period, and our teachers were online after that and finishing the semester."
 
On the other hand, Dr. Stewart said, there was the challenge of having courses that are clinic-based or lab-based, meaning that some of the programs from the spring semester – such as physicians assistants and EMS – couldn't go to clinical rotation. Students in some programs continued with remote learning, but the clinic and lab components had to be delayed until summer. "South Florida is slowly opening clinic sites, and some of the smaller ones are allowing our students in, so a lot of our students are getting clinical rotations that we had to delay," he said.
 
The College is being creative with developing a Plan B for several programs. For example, respiratory care was one area where the summer semester could be flipped with the fall because it was possible to do some things more remotely in the summer, and go back to the clinic in the fall. An issue with the respiratory care program: the College loaned some ventilators to the Jackson Health System when hospital administrators sought extra supplies. "So we've tried to respond to help hospital partners, but because of that, we haven't been able to do some of our clinical rotations," Dr. Stewart said.
 
Dr. Stewart's ultimate concern has been how to give students the hands-on experience they need. "The hospitals are in communication with me and they want our students back because they serve a critical role, fill in a lot of gaps. Jackson Hospital was saying they're 100 nurses short. I really feel that Miami Dade College has such a great reputation in South Florida that (the hospitals) are going to provide us opportunities to get our students back in, maybe quicker than we think. My biggest challenge is continuing to support our hospitals however we can with equipment and supplies, and also to have our students ready."
 
The effect has been felt throughout the campus. Dr. Stewart said each program has adapted and the accrediting bodies have been very helpful. "Everybody understands that the world is different, and when we come out of this, it's going to be a much different world we teach in," he said.
 
To be even more responsive to current needs, Dr. Stewart said the College created a contact tracing course. Contact tracing is the chief way to follow people who get COVID-19 and who they come in contact with. The course, which has already been offered twice, has been translated into Spanish and is being translated into Creole as well. "I'm proud of that, we did that in a very short period of time," he said. "Our faculty on the Medical Campus created the course and taught it, and our Continuing Education Department offered it." He said several students were hired to work for a company based in Kansas City that needed Spanish-speakers. Because contact tracing is done from home, the students can continue to live in Miami.
 
Dr. Stewart is hopeful the Spanish and Creole courses will help provide students with employment opportunities. "When you put your head down on your pillow at night, it makes you feel like you're doing everything you can to help. So many people are in situations that six months ago they never could have imagined they would be in. I'm happy if we can change some people's lives. And who knows, maybe this will get them started on a career in health care. That's one of the things I'm selfishly interested in, helping that pipeline to create the workforce to our hospitals and our facilities."

For more information, call (305) 237-4141 or visit mdc.edu.

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