Above: Prospective students visit the Health Careers Open House on the ICC Peoria Campus, November 18, 2019. Photo by Jeffery Noble
The Culinary Arts program at Illinois Central College has made quite a name for itself over the last decade or more. Each fall, their students serve lunch to the public as part of the curriculum—one of the rare times the kitchen is open to the public. So when I was invited to join Dr. Sheila Quirk-Bailey, ICC president, and a cohort of ICC administrators at a culinary lunch on the Peoria campus last October, it was an offer I couldn’t refuse.
After an outstanding meal and conversation, we proceeded to tour the adjacent Health Careers area. Upon opening in the fall of 2017, it quickly became one of the area’s best-kept secrets (though perhaps not anymore, having landed on the cover of this magazine). Its facilities are designed for interdisciplinary teaching and learning, with classrooms encompassing the wide range of possible careers in healthcare—from nurses, physical therapists and medical assistants to massage therapists, emergency medical technicians and much more.
Simulation is essential to these efforts, offering opportunities for students to hone their skills using real medical tools and instruments in a realistic manner. Inside the surgical operating room suite, a Syndaver cadaver manikin allows students to practice surgical procedures. In the OB simulation room, a female simulator accurately recreates the delivery of a baby. Dental hygiene students can train on simulated mouths, while in the ambulance bay, simulated patients are loaded into the ambulance.
In the year 2020, simulated manikins have been around for a while. But for those of us who aren’t immersed in the field every day, their increasingly lifelike nature can still be a bit jarring. In any case, it’s quite easy for the layperson to understand how effective they must be in imparting the necessary skills.
It’s no secret the healthcare industry is booming, and poised for continued growth for the foreseeable future. ICC has taken notice and vastly expanded its Health Careers programs, while prospective students are naturally flocking to where the careers are. In Fall 2019, ICC Health Careers saw 1,134 applicants for just 350 spots (in addition to the 500 CNAs and 165 EMTs admitted each year.) The college has quadrupled its capacity for LPN students and will be adding a Health Information Technology program next fall, among other expansions.
In this new year, Greater Peoria has a lot to look forward to—and nowhere is that more evident than it is in healthcare. PS
—Jonathan Wright, Editor In Chief