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Why Drexel?

Growth. Change. Investment in New Technology.

Excerpt from the College’s Connections Magazine:

Spectacular growth, incessant change and aggressive investment in new technology define exciting advances in the teaching and learning environment of Drexel's CNHP... but with board pass rates, licensing exam scores and student satisfaction at unprecedented levels - this story is really about creating a place where healthcare greets the future.

Dean Donnely with students in Sim Lab

See this? Proffering a dog-eared spiral notebook, Dean Gloria Donnelly runs a thumb along its half-flattened wire loops. “It’s been crushed between ten-pound textbooks in a backpack. Nursing students, and faculty too, used to carry these everywhere. In class, home to study, into clinicals, right to the patient’s bedside. “If a healthcare student didn’t have the answer to a question, out came the notebook. It might not do much for the patient’s confidence, but at at least it had some of the answers. “Of course when they started their first job, they could on longer rely on the notebook. That’s one reason nurses were often so stressed their first few months on a hospital floor.”

And it’s one reason the Drexel University College of Nursing and Health Professions has made technology a cornerstone of its learning model. The first school to mandate PDAs in undergraduate nursing programs, CNHP continues to explore IT’s promise to enhance and simplify healthcare education. “Information technology has changed the way our students learn and the way we teach,” muses Dean Donnelly. “I like to say that our focus can now be on teaching students to learn, and that’s a big change.”

Connections: The nursing shortage is driving up enrollment at healthcare schools around the country.  How has that affected CNHP?

Dean Donnelly at computer with studentDean Donnelly: Of course the nursing shortage was the impetus for much of the College’s growth. In the past 3 years our enrollment has doubled. That sounds like a lot, but when the Associate Degree in Nursing Program closed in 1998 there were no full time undergrad nursing students here. In 2000 we had 20. Now, six years later, there are 1500.

That must cause headaches.
We could never do it without the faculty’s ability to respond. They’ve taken the entrepreneurial approach you need to adapt quickly and effectively.

Are you adding faculty?
We have to! In 2000, our 5-Year BSN program opened. [Editor’s note: the program graduated its first class in 2005] In fall 2006, that program and ACE [the 11-month Accelerated Career Entry Nursing Program] enrolled more than 700. And undergraduate nursing is only one of 11 disciplines in the College. All told, we have 2300 students.

In its report To Err is Human, the Institute of Medicine stressed quality in education. Can you maintain high standards with such growth?
I’m glad you mentioned that report! It also recognized that information technology would be one of the keys to better education and better healthcare. I firmly believe our College has led the nation in putting IT to work in the classroom. We’re a unique, technology-infused environment. All of our students use PDAs, and they make regular use of our computer lab. We’ve added a 20-station technology instruction room, and staff dedicated to helping them learn skills like using PDAs to access information.

Our Clinical & Electronic Learning Resource Center (CELR) staff are a tremendous asset. They’re providing wonderful support to both students and faculty. You have to remember: most faculty are not of the computer generation, so we appreciate a safe haven where we can experiment with teaching technologies.

Spectacular growth, incessant change and aggressive investment in new technology define exciting advances in the teaching and learning environment of Drexel's CNHP.

Dr. Rockstraw instructing studentHow does IT affect learning outcomes?
Our IT investments are driven by the mantra of improving the environment for faculty and students, and improving education. And the numbers speak for themselves. Board scores in many programs are off the chart.
The RN licensing examination (NCLEX) pass rate for 2006 is 99.5%. Our most recent Physician Assistant class posted a 100% pass rate, and so did the Physical Therapy grads. All of our Nurse Anesthesia graduates passed the boards — many with the highest possible score.


Has the job market noticed?
Oh yes. Our graduates are very much in demand. In 2005, one employer — Hahnemann University Hospital — hired 100 Drexel University BSNs. So you’re doing something right. And we’re not slowing down. We’re finalizing plans for an Interdisciplinary Standardized Patient Laboratory where all of our clinical programs will teach and evaluate. Students will interact with “standardized patients”— actors trained to respond like real patients, cooperate, but not offer hints if a student misses something. After the exam, students and faculty can review these student-patient encounters anywhere, anytime because they’re stored digitally. It’s a fabulous tool for analysis and self-evaluation. And we can archive the best practices of students and teachers to use in the classroom. And everybody can write down the best practices in their notebook.


[Laughs] I can assure you that not one faculty member is schlepping around a grubby 30-year old notebook. That’s why we all have PDAs and iPodtouch! Our faculty are outstanding. They’re engaged, energetic and, I believe, as tech-savvy as any healthcare faculty you’ll find in the world. And they’re training professionals who will make healthcare what we all hope it can be.