Jefferson College of Health Sciences (visited 11/3/16)
Jefferson is an Allied Health Science College, offering degrees from associates (PTA and OTA are the most competitive) up to doctoral programs (2 offered in nursing and health services). However, they do have a Core component in the Humanities and Social Sciences, offering a minor in Healthcare Humanities. Because the programs here are so specific, students need to know that this is what they focus on, but they do have some options to transfer programs if they don’t like or aren’t doing well in their first program.
One of the benefits of Jefferson is its size. “We’re small. We have just over 1000 students.” A huge benefit of this is that the professors are helpful and invested. “We can call and text them all the time,” said one student. All academics are housed in one building so students don’t have to track them down. The professors are here to make sure students are successful and ready to go out into the workforce: “Give me someone with common sense and I can train them,” said one.
The college president was a hospital administrator when this building was a full-service hospital. During the switch, in-patient services were moved to another hospital, and the 5th and 6th floors were gutted and converted to the school, now the largest occupant of the building. The 1st floor is a quasi-urgent care center; the 2nd has pediatric rehab, and the 7th floor houses inpatient rehab services (people transitioning to home or other facilities). Students have access to lots of clinical rotations without even leaving the building. Other clinicals are often done at Roanoke Memorial or Carillon Hospital, the 2nd largest in the state. Carillon is a 20 minute walk or 5 minute drive; trolleys run over there and parking is free.
In addition to the basic academic skills within their field, students are taught to work in groups across disciplines. Students participate in an annual Disaster Event, an inter-professionalism event coming out of McMillan in Canada. They get evaluated on how well they work together as a team, on ethics, etc (they aren’t being critiqued clinically on skills for this).
During our visit, we got split into 2 groups to talk with the Heads of 2 departments and tour the facilities:
Students can get an AAS in Surgical Tech (this technically falls under Nursing) and become nationally Board Certified (students have a 100% pass rate on the exam). Surgical Techs help prep patients and then monitor and keep things sterile in ORs. Students get more than 200 clinical hours in before graduation and are almost always hired before graduation.
Respiratory Therapy is one of the Bachelor’s programs. This was the most amazing program! The Head is dynamic and passionate about what he’s doing. I was ready to sign up for the program right then. We got to look at x-rays to see how a diagnosis might be done, machines that help Cystic Fibrosis patients, and even 2 sets of real lungs that he inflated for us!
- 75% of RT students are employed before graduation, and everyone has a job within a month of graduation. This isn’t unusual. A nursing student said that she has gotten job offers on the floor as she did clinicals: “You can come back and work for me.”
Resources are “top notch. Often they’re one generation out of date – we get a lot of things donated – but they’re free and similar to what they use in hospitals,” said one of the teachers. An exception to this is the Anatomage which is table with a top that works like a giant ipad. They can pull up a picture of full-sized body that students can rotate, “dissect,” and use to learn skeletal, muscular, and other structures. Not many schools have it.
Additionally, they had a Cadaver lab which gets used by many programs including Occupational Therapy. OT also has labs that include a play room for kids and a mock house so they can learn to work with patients in that environment.
Students we spoke to chose Jefferson for the direct entry programs, the 4-year EMS, and the nice dorms. Dorms are a 4 minute walk from the school. Even though there’s no traditional campus, students feel like they get a full college experience. There are extra-curricular options and events just like any other college. A couple they mentioned were:
- Taste of Jefferson: Departments have different foods, students get a passport to be stamped, they get a t-shirt when they fill it up.
- Chocolate Day: “the best part is the chocolate fountain!”
All students can have cars on campus, and parking is easy in the garage. It’s helpful to have one for clinicals and just getting around; the closest grocery store is a mile. However, it’s not needed.