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Breezing up--an interdisciplinary health professions course for high school juniors and seniors and college freshmen.

Recruiting students into the health professions is an ever growing problem as young people are faced with many attractive options for career choices. At the same time, a rapidly growing elderly population will require more health professionals to maintain the health system. To address this recruitment issue an interdisciplinary health professions course delivered to high schools and college campuses in North Dakota via the Internet was developed at the University of North Dakota (UND) School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS). The participating high schools embedded the course in the health professions curriculum and students were given the option of receiving college credit. The course features presentations by professionals representing 16 different health professions and were developed using a new software called Macromedia Breeze[TM] that allows for easy recording of PowerPoint[TM] audio presentations and imputing video content into the presentation. Blackboard[TM] was utilized for course management.

ABBREVIATIONS: LRSC = Lake Region State College; OCMEO = Office of Continuing Medical Education and Outreach; SMHS = School of Medicine and Health Sciences; UND = University of North Dakota.

INDEX TERMS: healthcare shortage; health professions recruitment; online course delivery.

Clin Lab Sci 2006;19(2):112

A Wayne Bruce PhD is Professor ofPathology and Director of Continuing Medical Education and Outreach, Kylie J Behm is Educational Coordinator of Continuing Medical Education and Outreach, and Nasser Hammami MS is Assistant Professor and Director of Medical Instructional Technology, University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Grand Forks ND.

Address for correspondence: A Wayne Bruce PhD, Professor of Pathology and Director of Continuing Medical Education and Outreach, University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences, 501 North Columbia Road, Grand Forks ND 58202-9037. (701) 777-2636, (701) 777-4261 (fax).

Yasmen Simonian PhD is the Focus: Educational Technology guest editor.

Focus Continuing Education Credit: see pages 127 to 128 for learning objectives, test questions, and application form.

As Americans age and expectations for healthcare grow, shortages have developed leading to a decrease in the quality of care as well as an increase in cost. (1,2) Rural communities are experiencing an even greater problem as they have limited ability to compete for the health professionals available. (3) North Dakota, with a size approximating one third of Texas and less than 650,000 in population, is experiencing this phenomenon and anticipates the problem to worsen. A variety of solutions have been proposed from developing career ladders to importing health workers from foreign countries. (4) A significant suggestion has been to work with high schools to familiarize students with health careers. Another solution, proposed by Edward Salsberg in a published report of the Mibank Memorial Fund and the Reforming States Group, was the development of innovative methods for the delivery of educational training such as the Internet and personal computers. (4)

The University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences Office of Continuing Medical Education and Outreach (OCMEO) has developed a unique distance learning course to familiarize North Dakota high school students and college freshmen with various health career opportunities. The course Medicine 100: Introduction to the Health Professions, one credit, consists of 16 lectures covering a variety of professions delivered via the Internet (Table 1). Faculty for the course were recruited from UND and surrounding colleges. They were either responsible for teaching in the various professions or actively working health professionals. The presentations are approximately one hour in length and include objectives and a short quiz. Printable slides are also available for the students. The presentations are audio PowerPoint[TM] productions with a video inserted showing the healthcare worker in the work setting. In locations where Internet connectivity was a problem, the presentations were delivered via a CD-ROM. Student performance evaluation, course evaluation and student tracking were done for all students on the Internet using BlackBoard Learning System (Release 6)[TM]. (5) The course description, purpose, and format are described in Table 2.


The presentations were produced using Macromedia Breeze[TM], (6) Macro media F1ashMX 2004 Professional[TM], (7) PowerPoint, and Serious Magic Visual Communicator Professional[TM]. (9) Macromedia Breeze allows the presenter to capture a high quality audio PowerPoint presentation and also insert video clips with ease once the video clips have been compressed using Macromedia FlashMX. When produced, it is ready for application to the Internet or onto a CD-ROM. Serious Magic Visual Communicator allows for the production of studio quality presentations that can be inserted into the Breeze program or can stand alone. The production can be done in an office environment without any props.

The final product was developed so students could either access the entire course directly from the Internet or have the presentations on a CD-ROM, with student performance assessment and course evaluation completed on the Internet. If the CD-ROM option was chosen for viewing the presentations, Sum Total Systems Tool Book Instructor 8.5[TM] was used to package them. (9)

To market the course, the North Dakota Department of Career and Technical Education was asked to participate in the planning and to endorse the course for high schools in North Dakota. A presentation was given to high school career counselors at their annual meeting. In addition, UND partnered with a community college in the center of the state to offer the course as part of their dual credit offerings to high school juniors and seniors. The course developer provided further marketing by visiting several high schools in the state. High school students were given the opportunity to take the course for college or high school credit. Those who chose college credit paid the appropriate college tuition. The Department of Career and Technical Education provided 20 scholarships for college credit and these were awarded on a first come basis. Students taking the course for high school credit were required to pay $20.


Medicine 100 was offered in the spring semester of 2005 by the UND SMHS and by Lake Region State College (LRSC) to high school students and college freshmen. Figure 1 is a map showing the location and numbers of students enrolled at UND and at LRSC. One-hundred forty-two students enrolled in the course, 43 were UND freshmen, and 99 were high school students. Twenty-seven of the high school sites where students participated were from rural communities with populations less that 10,000. Many of these sites did not have a health occupation curriculum in their high school, so this course provided primary exposure.


The course evaluation indicated that students overall were very satisfied. They highly rated the quality of the presentations and were pleased with the content. They rated the classroom management, evaluation process and the presenters' skill in teaching as above average. Specific comments from students regarding the course can be found in Table 3.


Medicine 100: Introduction to the Health Professions provides a valuable mechanism for high school students and college freshmen in rural and urban settings to learn about opportunities for careers in the health field because they do not have the resources to offer a health occupation course. The offering of the course to high schools in North Dakota serves several purposes:

* It helps build recognition and status of individuals in the community working in the various health occupations.

* It stimulates interest among young people who were previously unaware of opportunities in healthcare.

* It is a cost effective way to recruit young people to the health professions.

Developing the course for online or computer and online delivery allowed students maximum flexibility in participating in the course and made it available at any site, regardless of their Internet connectivity. This is especially important in rural communities with very small high schools that do not have the technical capabilities of the high schools in the larger communities. Providing the option of taking the course for high school and college credit or for high school credit only, and providing scholarships for those seeking college credit, makes the course affordable for all students, regardless of economic status. The development of partnerships between the SMHS, North Dakota Department of Career and Technical Education, and LRSC provided a mechanism to market the course to a wider audience and to gain acceptance in the various rural communities in the state.


Medicine 100: Introduction to the Health Professions course delivered via the Internet provided a unique way to address an ever growing healthcare shortage problem in North Dakota. It provided for inclusion of key stakeholders and gave convenient cost effective access to all communities that wished to participate.


(1.) Silberg B. Crisis looms with shortages of health professionals. University of Minnesota TC: Kiosk; 2002. 03-04.01text/crisis.html. Accessed 2005 Jun 9.

(2.) An opinion research study. April 2002. Peter D. Hart Research Associates for AFT Healthcare. The staffing crisis for health professionals: Perspectives from radiology technologists, respiratory therapists, and certified nursing assistants. American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO.

(3.) US Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, Healthcare in rural America, OTA-H-434 (Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, September 1990.

(4.) Salsberg E. Making sense of the system: How states can use health workforce policies to increase access and improve quality of care. September 2003. 2003salsberg.html. Accessed 2005 Jun 9.

(5.) Blackboard[TM]. Software used: Blackboard Learning System[TM] (Release 6), 6.2.3 build 6. Accessed 2005 Jun 9.

(6.) Macromedia[TM]. Software used: Breeze 4.1. http://www.macromedia. com. Accessed 2005 Jun 8.

(7.) Macromedia[TM]. Software used: Flash MX2004 Professional. http:// Accessed 2005 Jun 8.

(8.) PowerPoint 2003[TM]. Accessed 2005 Jun 8. 9. Serious Magic[TM]. Software used: Visual Communicator Professional. Accessed 2005 Jun 8

(10.) SumTotal[TM]. Software used: Toolbook Instructor 8.5. http://www. Accessed 2005 Jun 8.

The Focus section seeks to publish relevant and timely continuing education for clinical laboratory practitioners. Section editors, topics, and authors are selected in advance to cover current areas of interest in each discipline. Readers can obtain continuing education credit (CE) through P.A.C.E.[R] by completing the tearout form/examination questions included in each issue of Clin Lab Sci and mailing it with the appropriate fee to the address designated on the form. Suggestions for future Focus topics and authors, and manuscripts appropriate for CE credit are encouraged Direct all inquiries to the Clin Lab Sci Editorial Office, IC Ink, 858 Saint Annes Drive, Iowa City IA 52245. (319) 354-3861, (319) 338-1016 (fax).
Table 1. Medicine 100: Introduction to the Health Professions, spring
semester 2005

Instructor: A Wayne Bruce PhD, Professor of Pathology; Director,
Office of Continuing Medical Education & Outreach (OCMEO); UND
School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

Online Course Coordinator: Kylie Behm BBA, Education Coordinator,

Week Topic

 1. Physical therapy
 2. Radiologic technician
 3. Sports medicine
 4. Physician assistant
 5. Cytotechnology
 6. Communications sciences
 7. Occupational therapy
 8. Public heTopic
 9. Nursing
10. Social work
11. Pharmacy
12. Clinical laboratory science
13. Biomedical communications
14. Optometry/disorders
15. Nutrition/ dietetics
16. Medicine

Table 2. Medicine 100: Introduction to the Health Professions,
one credit for high school juniors and seniors and college freshmen

Description: Introduction to the roles, ethics, certification,
education, employment, and fundamental knowledge and skills related
to the health sciences professions.

Purpose: The purpose of the course is to introduce students to the
health professions so they can make informed decisions regarding
pursuing a career in one of the health disciplines. Experienced
leaders in the various health professions will describe the major
responsibilities of those employed in the profession, the rewards
and challenges, the education required, their role in the total
health care team, the employment opportunities, and other unique
aspects of their profession.

Format: The course will be delivered as an on-line course. The
presentation will be audio-PowerPoint with short video clips inserted
in various lessons to enhance student understanding of a range of
health professions. This course will be provided online or with
presentations on a CD-ROM. Quizzes after each presentation will be
online using Blackboard. (5) The midterm and final exam will be
online. The course is embedded into the health occupations course
curriculum for high school students. One college credit
will be awarded for successful completion of the course.

Table 3. Student comments about Medicine 100: Introduction to the
Health Professions

* I like that each occupation was a separate lecture. It was very well
 organized and I learned a lot from taking this class, I also like
 the different ways each lecture was presented.

* The printable slides were great; after listening to the lectures, I
 had something to refer back to.

* I like how the course covered a wide variety of professions. It let
 me get a look at a lot of career choices.

* I am a visual and listening learner, so having the lecture there and
 being able to hear the presentation and see the slides at the same
 time made the class easy to understand and comprehend. What also
 helped was that the presenters made each lecture and each slide very
 interesting. I found myself sitting on the edge of my seat because
 it was so interesting.

* This course helped greatly in discovering the many occupations in
 the medical field. It helped me see which ones I would be interested
 in. I would recommend this course to anyone who is thinking about a
 career in the medical field.

* The basic concept of the course was incredible. It was very
 interesting to be able to explore many different areas of health
 careers from people who actually have experience in that specific

* It taught me how to take an online course and what to expect from
 future courses.

* I would definitely recommend this course to anyone interested in
 health and medicine, even if they have already decided on a career;
 this course is a wonderful way to learn more about other career

* I would recommend this class because it really opens your eyes to
 all of the medical professions to explore. In the beginning I knew
 that I wanted to be a physician; now I know what steps I need to
 take to increase my chances of getting into medical school. Also, I
 am more informed about the various areas from sports medicine,
 social work, nursing, information resources, etc. I think that
 anyone who plans to work in the medical field should definitely take
 this class because it allows students to see how all the professions
 must work together in order to keep things running smoothly.
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Author:Bruce, A Wayne.; Behm, Kylie J.; Hammami, Nasser
Publication:Clinical Laboratory Science
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 22, 2006
Previous Article:Advances and innovations.
Next Article:Student laboratories as a component of a web-based curriculum.

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