Malcolm X College has invested in new architecture and high-tech simulation space to prepare its students to take future jobs in healthcare. That’s the focus on a new piece from CityLab – Why This Teaching Hospital Only Has Fake Patients – that focuses on Malcolm X College’s breakthrough new teaching hospital. Located in the near west side of Chicago and near the Illinois Medical District, Malcolm X College is a strategic response to the rapid evolution of healthcare in American and specifically Chicago. Recognizing a gap between the current market of qualified healthcare professionals and the projected 84,000 healthcare jobs set to come on-line in the Chicago region over the next decade, City Colleges of Chicago has created a dynamic learning environment that can help their students from across the city seize these opportunities.

The full piece can be read online and below are key excerpts.

On shifting community college perceptions

“We want to change the dynamics of what people think about community college,” says Malcolm X’s interim president, David Sanders, so that the school is seen as a “first-class institution that compares to the University of Chicago or Loyola”

That goal is in reach in terms of the quality of the space and the instruction. (Nearby Rush University Medical Center is one institutional partner.) But the demographic realities at Malcolm X set it apart from Chicago’s elite and expensive private universities. It draws students from all over the city, but abuts one of Chicago’s poorest quarters. For some, “being on campus might be the safest place they can be. The meal they have on campus may be the best meal they have all day,” say CannonDesign’s Jim Jankowski.

In order to meet students where they are, CannonDesign condensed a range of student outreach services in the first two floors, creating a literal and metaphorical “heart of the building,” says CannonDesign Chicago Office Leader Tim Swanson. “There’s a cafeteria, the student union, a daycare center, and on the second floor, academic support services and the library.”

On the college’s dynamic health teaching environments

The top floor is a petting zoo of different health-care environments. There are exam rooms with computers wired to a database filled with hypothetical patient records. There are pediatric wards, an emergency room, and a mock living room for healthcare providers and paramedics in training. There’s also a set of doors that open “to the business end of an ambulance,” says Jankowski – its patient cabin.

The operating rooms puts instructors behind a two-way mirror for observation, and records students’ performance with a camera. When the lesson is over, they review the video together, or send it home with students on a thumb drive.

Connecting all of these simulation exercises together means the school focuses on areas where patient care falters most. “Statistically, most mistakes happen in a health-care environment at the handoff” says Jankowski. “The EMTs passing a patient to the emergency room, the emergency room transferring the patient to the OR.”

Learn more about CannonDesign’s education design practice >