"Simulated learning doesn’t stop for us. When the pandemic hit, we needed to start going through what potential situations could look like. If I wouldn’t have done it at NAIT, I don’t know if I would have had the experience to do it through the pandemic."
- Nickie Cowan, (Respiratory Therapy '17)
To respiratory therapist, Nickie Cowan (pictured left), learning to respond to any potential patient scenario was a major factor in her ability to do her job during one of the toughest situations she's ever faced.
"At the hospital, we were prepared for any kind of intervention, we were going to need to do and how to best support potential COVID-19 patients," says Nickie.
The pandemic, unfortunately, doesn't allow much room for error. That's why she's thankful that her education at NAIT prepared her for any potential situation she could face.
NAIT’s simulation centre is an interdisciplinary facility that gives Health and Life Sciences students the opportunity to practice clinical situations in a safe and controlled environment.
"NAIT provided us with exactly what we are going to use when we go to work,” says Nickie.
As a CAE Centre of Excellence, NAIT allows students to practice and learn in real time by using 17 CAE Healthcare manikins. The manikins mimic human patients through cardiovascular, respiratory and neurological responses.
"The manikins are interactive, they still provide feedback and they still do things. It’s essentially like you are in the hospital," says Nickie.
Read more about how CAE Healthcare is supporting simulated learning.
"I have a lot of respect for the patients we treat and what they are going through. I just hope there is one small difference I can make in their day. When someone says thank you, it means a lot to me, and that keeps me going."
- Courtney Gallatin (Paramedic '19)
When Courtney Gallatin received the Greg Siver Memorial Award, she says it gave her just the boost she needed as she neared the end of her studies to become an emergency first responder.
The award was established by Nellie Siver, and mother-in-law Sandra, after she lost her husband Greg to Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
Greg (pictured left) was a caring and compassionate paramedic who answered people’s calls for help for nearly 20 years with Emergency Medical Services in Edmonton.
"He had so much compassion. All he wanted to do was help people," says Nellie. "I couldn’t think of a better way to remember him."
After meeting with Nellie, Courtney was surprised to learn that she is working on the same platoon Greg worked on for years.
“I talked to people who knew him and tried to learn about what he was like," says Courtney. "The more I heard about him, the more I was just blown away about just how amazing he was.”
Read more about how the bursary honours the life and career of dedicated paramedic Greg Siver.
“I was really worried that everything was just going to shut down – there’s no chance of me finishing school, there’s no chance of my practicum continuing.”
- Elizabeth Bell (Medical Laboratory Assisting '20)
After NAIT classrooms and labs closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic last March, Elizabeth Bell and fellow Medical Laboratory Assisting students worried about how they'd finish their practical assessments to graduate in spring 2020.
That's when long-time industry partner DynaLife offered up a patient care centre in downtown Edmonton. The centre, which was temporarily closed during the pandemic, was set up as a teaching lab for students and staff. They set a schedule, which helped them adhere to physical distancing requirements.
“Students are important to us,” says Jacqueline Carter, student training coordinator for DynaLife, one of Alberta’s major providers of medical diagnostic services. “We felt we had to do everything we could to allow them to graduate [on] time.”
For Elizabeth, it was a much-needed win during an already stressful time. She got valuable experience working in DynaLife's labs and accumulated the hours required for graduation. A few months later, she returned to the site, but this time as an employee in the anatomic pathology department.
Medical lab assistants are needed every day to collect blood and urine samples, perform electrocardiograms and prepare samples for analysis. Along with regular visits to the doctor, the diagnostic tasks Elizabeth performs are vital to ensuring patient health.
Her every day work includes entering and sorting dermatology samples, such as skin shaves, moles, punch biopsies, and colonoscopy samples for microscopic examination and patient diagnosis.
Elizabeth says, she’s thankful to NAIT and DynaLife staff for working together to support her and her classmates’ learning.
"I don’t know how they got it together so quick and do what they did to make it easier for students."
Read more about how DynaLife and NAIT quickly responded to help students graduate.
"Generosity is inspiring, and I think we live in a time when it would be a beautiful thing if generosity becomes a little more infectious in us all. Not everyone is able to work right now, and education costs are rising, these donations are quite a blessing."
- Justin Moore (Denturist Technology '21)
Denturist Technology student Justin Moore describes his educational path as "answering his calling." Both his father and grandfather were denturists. After several years working with his father, Moore decided to attend NAIT to expand his skills in an industry he loves.
Near the end of his first year, the COVID-19 pandemic happened. As fall semester approached, Moore anxiously wondered what it would be like to return to campus for his final year of studies before graduation in spring 2021. There were moments, he admits, when he felt discouraged about the possibility of not being able to attend classes on campus at all.
Thanks to the efforts of NAIT staff and guidelines to protect student and staff safety, Moore and his classmates were able to continue their hands-on learning.
"Sometimes it is difficult navigating all of the new requirements; learning new habits takes time, but it is a necessary adjustment period and also worth it to be able to learn the technical aspects of our education," he says.
Student safety was aided by a generous in-kind donation from NAIT alumnus Daniel Yeung and his company Universal Laboratory Technologies. The donation of 1,600 face shields for students in the Denturist Technology, Dental Assistant and Dental Laboratory Technician programs helps limit the spread of COVID-19, especially when physical distancing in labs is not possible.
"I would like the donors to know that I, and others, are thankful for their generosity and how it is helping us continue in our education safely and efficiently," says Moore. "You are directly helping many lives that are working towards professions dedicated to helping others."
Watch the video of Universal Laboratory Technologies founder and NAIT Dental Laboratory Technology grad Daniel Yeung and his educational journey.