JJC encourages well-being, from the ground up

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A student in the Radiologic Technology department at Joliet Junior College practices reading an X-Ray in the new Health Professions Center. | SUPPLIED PHOTO

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Imagine transitioning from temporary space in a trailer, or classes that were scattered throughout a main campus, to a beautiful state-of-the-art facility with all the space and technology it takes to educate today’s health professionals.

That’s what the students and faculty are experiencing in the new Health Professions Center, which opened for class in January at Joliet Junior College.

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The Health Professions Center was designed to help JJC serve the needs of its high-demand nursing, allied health and emergency services programs. In addition to increased academic space and improved equipment, the Center will allow the college to expand into other allied health fields based on employment needs and labor market demands.

Entering the facility from the main entrance, and you may feel as if you’ve walked into a fire station or hospital. And that’s by design. The center was planned to create many realistic training areas, such as hospital rooms and an apparatus bay (which houses the JJC ambulance and firetruck), and even an apartment setting to give students practice extracting a patient from a home setting.

“We’re giving students a true 21st Century learning environment,” said Cecile Regner, Dean of Nursing, Allied Health and Emergency Services. “We now provide the best learning environment for nurses and other health-related careers in the state.”

Regner says the Center was created to bring out the best in our students.

“Having this new facility allows for students to be educated using the most current equipment, in a space that is outfitted appropriately,” she said. “Our faculty and students can use their creativity by bringing the latest technology, including video and podcasts, to the classroom. Because the Center includes realistic settings, students can practice in a way that simulates their chosen professions, which goes a long way to build confidence.”

“Being able to train on the best equipment helps, too! Every graduate wants to bring self-confidence to his or her profession, and it helps patients feel more comfortable, too. Working on the best equipment gives our students that confidence, and gives them a professional advantage.”

Regner also expressed gratitude to the community for their support of the Center, which is funded by a referendum voted on in 2008. The building allows JJC to give back to the community, too.

“We are now able to offer multi-media meeting space for workshops,” she said. “We hosted the Illinois Nursing Association in March, and will host the Northeast region of the Association in May; we’ll continue to look for additional opportunities.”

The best equipment can refer to something small, like a video recorder to capture a student working with a simulated patient, or large as a firetruck or ambulance, both of which can be found in the apparatus bay. Duane Stonich, Professor and Coordinator of Fire Science, says this is a game-changing option for JJC students and faculty.

“Teaching is teaching, whether you’re in a temporary trailer or a state-of-the-art facility,” Stonich said. “But we are now able to give students real, hands-on experience. Instead of showing a video, students will be able to see different hose nozzles and learn how to use the different spray patterns in a firefighting situation. There is space for every student to actively participate in the skills we are teaching. This is very important from a community standpoint, because many graduates of our programs go out to serve and work in the local area.”

For further information, call Joliet Junior College at (815) 729-9020 or visit www.jjc.edu.

—Provided by Joliet Junior College