Columns, Training

Enrich Curriculum to Engage Students

Issue 7 and Volume 39.

Educators have defined curricula that meet state and national standards, but that doesn’t mean they completely meet the needs of public safety students. About 90% of what a student learns isn’t in the formal curriculum; therefore, more effort and time must be directed to enriching experiences that may resonate and engage students in a thoughtful manner.

Learning basic medical phrases in Spanish can help students communicate better with their patients.

Learning basic medical phrases in Spanish can help students communicate better with their patients. Photo Chris Nollette

Educators must create a dynamic, enriching and results-driven education. Think beyond the curriculum and look for ways to enhance and build on formal instruction. These enhancement pieces can be short, well-defined and exciting topics that breathe life into the classroom. Let’s review six quick concepts that will get you thinking of inspiring curriculum ideas so you can make a real difference.

1. Conversational Spanish
Have Spanish-speaking students and/or family members introduce common medical phrases like symptoms or equipment names in their language, teaching providers how to better communicate with
Spanish-speaking patients as well as teaching cultural insights. An added benefit of this concept is that it involves students and family in classroom and lab experiences, and can help build leadership and effective communication skills.

2. Martial Arts
Although many programs offer a fitness component in their curriculum, they may lack a targeted physical activity. Look into activities that help students manage an unpredictable and dangerous environment. We train them to make sure the scene is safe, but sometimes even the best plans can go wrong. Basic defense training is helpful to keep both the provider and patient safe, and local martial arts studios can often teach special classes on or off campus. If possible, barter by offering a free CPR/first aid class in exchange.

3. Drug Experts
Experts should come in once a year and update students and faculty on new recreational drugs hitting the scene. Drugs seem to be designer in nature and hit the streets as frequently as new fashions. Keeping up on changes and being able to notice tampering of medications on the truck are areas that are rarely touched upon. The district attorney’s office is a great help in getting the most knowledgeable folks out to your classroom.

4. Coroner’s Lab
With the move to incorporate more anatomy and physiology into the curriculum for all levels, a lab with the coroner can be helpful for students to see real bodies. The gravity of good medicine is centered through an exploratory lab that looks deep into patients to see what’s going on as it relates to disease and traumatic injuries. EMS personnel must see themselves as healthcare professionals, and many of the same experiences medical school students have must be applied to the teaching of emergency medical professionals.

5. Bomb & Ballistic Lab
It’s an indictment of our time that this has become an essential topic to explore. PowerPoint slides can’t show the destruction of a small well-made pipe bomb—students need to view the effects of ammunition on gel blocks themselves to see up-close the trauma this can cause on the tissue of the body. Of course, it’s also just fun to see things blow up.

Law enforcement officers have great resources and facilities to work with your students, and the police academies do this training on a routine basis. Again, exchange of services may be of great help. Have your students man the first-aid stations while the officers do physical training for candidates.

6. Specialty Presentations
Flight services, hospitals, medical directors and other experts can guest lecture about the latest emergency management techniques. These professionals can enrich their lessons with hands-on learning, which can breathe life into the art and science of emergency medicine.

It’s critical each educator enhance their curriculum with topical areas that can address the needs of their student and the profession as a whole. Keep in mind these topical areas can be varied in their time and scope. Most critical is that they enhance the curriculum and move from slide presentations to field presentations. This will add to the richness of learning and bring the curriculum full circle for students and faculty alike.

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