Jan
10
2019

Growing a Simulation STEAM Program

A unique partnership in 2015 between Jump Simulation, a part of OSF Innovation and a local school to introduce engineering concepts to middle school students has exploded into what we now call our STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) program. With courses for students from middle school all the way through college, Jump aims to develop a local pool of talent interested in health care-related careers who will study and work here in Peoria.

Hundreds of students from the area have participated, and donors have also seen the value of the opportunities we provide. The PNC Foundation awarded the OSF HealthCare Foundation a $400,000 grant to fund 1,000 student scholarships over the next five years for low-to-moderate-income students who want to attend STEAM courses at Jump.

So, how did we evolve from that first course in 2015 to what we have today? Here are some things to take into consideration for simulation centers interested in developing their own STEAM programs.

How to Determine STEAM Opportunities

As a large simulation center that’s expected to be mostly self-sustaining, this was a great way to maximize our resources, increase awareness and community engagement with our facility and promote the many career opportunities available through OSF HealthCare as well as the value of having a medical school in our own back yard. With that, we had to develop curriculum that was interactive and engaging, and would keep students coming back for more.

This was done by focusing on our strengths as a simulation center. This includes a diverse simulation team that includes staff with backgrounds in anatomy/physiology, pre-hospital emergency care, engineering, medical visualization and virtual reality game development to create and run curriculum. We also have the space and inventory of equipment we could use to run a variety of courses.

All we had to do was research potential competitors in the area to understand what they were offering, how much they were charging and when they were running classes. This was not only to determine the courses we would provide, but to find opportunities for partnerships.

Pricing, Marketing and Evaluation of Program

Pricing

Understanding what we could provide in terms of curriculum and space, we next had to decide the age-range of the students we wanted to attract. Based on a pilot program at a local middle school, we knew we would have success with that group of students and decided to add high school students to the mix. We opted to keep our courses at four hours on Saturdays to keep our learners interested in the content and prevent boredom.

The cost of our STEAM programming was based on the research we completed on competitors, the time it takes for staff to complete a course, how much space is used and for how long and learning what parents were willing to pay. We were able to apply much of what we learned in our middle and high school programming to expand our Saturday courses into week-long summer camps. We were also able to use this strategy to develop programs catering to college students who are interested in bioengineering or medicine.

Marketing

While OSF HealthCare has a robust marketing department to help us get the word out about our STEAM programs, we have picked up some knowledge along the way. Our center is located in a market that boasts one major newspaper, many radio stations and three television stations. We reached out to these news outlets to gain coverage in news stories and to participate in interviews during morning programs.

An easy way we got the word out about our STEAM courses was to email school administrators, counselors and teachers with backgrounds in science, technology, engineering, arts and math—encouraging them to tell students and their parents about our classes. We also created a webpage on our website specifically for STEAM to make it easier for individuals to check out our programming.
As part of a larger health care organization, we ensured our fellow Mission Partners were aware of the STEAM courses we provide by creating web banners for our internal web portals.

Evaluation

We always want to know if we are offering the best STEAM courses we can by getting feedback through satisfaction surveys. We initially sent these surveys to parents without a lot of response. We now ask our students to review our content immediately after their course is complete, so it’s fresh in their minds.

We have received favorable ratings in the 95th percentile and many of the students who take one course inevitably come back for others. We also ask participating students and their parents to use their comments for marketing purposes.

International Meeting on Simulation in Healthcare

We are one of a dozen teams from Jump who have the pleasure of presenting at the 2019 International Meeting on Simulation in Healthcare this month. We look forward to sharing how we developed our STEAM program and helping others who are considering such a move.

To simulation centers that won’t be attending IMSH this year, we welcome you reaching out to our team for more information. You can contact us at events@jumpsimulation.org 
 
Categories: Community, Education, International Meeting on Simulation in Healthcare (IMSH), STEM