Staring at a huge wound from a croc bite…

18 Jul


Intrigued by the title?  Keep reading…

This “hands-on learning” business is a BIG DEAL!

The “intimate learning, global reach” motto of Hiram College
is probably THE BEST thing about this place!
What this hands-on learning means for me is never being
bored, and always being challenged.
I think it’s important for you to see what the Hiram
hands-on learning has been for me.

Here’s a sort of definition for you through examples,
because “hands-on learning” is an expansive phrase:

-My professors have me simulate concepts we’ve
learned through experimentation.

While almost all science courses will take
you through lab classes and experiments, at Hiram, it’s more unique because our quirky professors provoke you.  For example, in my human anatomy course, Professor Tom Koehnle, had us develop a scientific mindset by NEVER telling us the answers.  He’d set out seemingly impossible tasks, such as counting millions of cells on a slide.  We were all so dumbfounded and frustrated with the challenges he put before us.  Without any experience or knowledge on how to go about answering these questions, you’d get worked up too!

There’s no way to really teach curiosity or
the scientific mindset of finding answers to tough questions.  But by putting pressure on us and challenging
us to THINK and not ASK, Tom taught us how to be better scientists (and nurse

We also did really awesome experiments that
we could plan out entirely by ourselves (with his approval). By testing our “volunteers,” our friends and family, we were able to carry out experiments reinforcing stuff we learned about the human body!  I saw how different amounts of caffeine affect cognitive ability, and how far the sweet and salty taste spectrums go when diluting solutions for my friends to drink.  We even used equipment that medical professionals use to measure nerve reaction time and muscle reaction time!  My classmates and I were carrying out experiments that were alike to those done by professionals!  It was amazing to read scientific journals with
the very same procedures and results as ours!  We were real scientists!

-I’m a nursing major, so of course I’ll have to touch on the hands-on learning I’ve met in the program.  Hands-on learning in my nursing world so far has meant being encouraged to practice nursing concepts on the high-tech mannequins, on my professors, on my classmates.  It’s meant having the opportunity to get involved in research or in different scenarios in different hospitals and units.  Nursing is ALL ABOUT being hands-on. “Nursing is being, not doing,” as my professor Emily McClung always tells us.  It’s so true, and everything we do at Hiram helps us be nurses.  My favorite part is being with professors with whom we are able to build personal, fun, chummy yet professional relationships.  That itself makes learning so much more HANDS-ON because you get to hear personal stories from their careers and you get to see so much more than you would at a bigger school.  For example, in my first clinical group this past spring, we were able to practice care for the dying, administering different routes of drugs, and dealing with ALL sorts of patients, because of the relationship we had with our professor.   Emily knew which ones of us needed to work on patient interactions, so she would hook us up with challenging patients to improve our skills.  She’d even teach us her little tricks-of-the-trade and be right there to help us carry out those tips with real-life patients.  It was amazing to see our own accomplishments and growth, and to help patients at the same time.  This is HANDS-ON LEARNING.

-Lastly, I want to speak about hands-on learning that is yet to come for me.  This past fall the nursing department (along with the study abroad office, of course) organized a trip to Zambia, Africa.  Now THIS is what I’ve been waiting for!  This sort of learning is what drew me to Hiram!  On the trip, students, from both nursing and non-nursing backgrounds, visited clinics in Zambia and interacted with the people there.  From friends I’ve heard amazing stories about how they dove right into trauma situations and how they learned about the culture of the people of Africa.  It doesn’t get any more hands-on and challenging than a trauma situation in an ill-equipped clinic where nurses are rushing about, asking for YOUR help in treating a gaping crocodile bite wound!!  I can barely wait to take my own study abroad trip, to Zambia and to other places around the world.


The hands-on, intimate learning at small, wittle Hiram make me feel like I’ll be prepared when these fleeting four years are through.


Make sure you say YES to challenges and YES dive-right-in
types of learning while you’re at Hiram, guys!

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