Once upon a time, student nurses practiced on oranges before injecting live patients. With today’s sophisticated simulators, they can now train not only to give shots but also to manage life-threatening clinical conditions by practicing on digitalized sophisticated simulators. More than that: throughout the pandemic, trainee nurses from the Ono Academic College in Kiryat Ono continued their studies by accessing Ono’s simulators online in what Prof. Shlomo Noy, Dean of Ono College’s Faculty of Health Professions and the former director of the Sheba Medical Center Rehabilitation Hospital, diffidently calls “something of a breakthrough.”
During Covid-19, the professional training of all students of health professions continued on campus in small, supervised labs as well as in clinical settings. Telehealth courses were added to the curriculum to meet the current professional needs.
For nursing students, since compassion is an integral and important part of their profession, modern techniques based on digital platforms were incorporated into the curriculum to train students to use and practice “soft skills” such as interpersonal interventions.
Huge simulation center
Even before Covid-19, “we embraced innovative educational technologies,” says Prof. Noy, an MD with a doctorate in Health Policy who co-founded the College’s Health Professions Faculty. “Simulation centers are more usually found in hospitals, but Ono has a huge center for all our health professions students.” It also leads in telenursing, he continues. “With smartphones more powerful each year, clearer audio, crisper video and more reliable hard- and software, it’s clear that nurses have a crucial role in digital health services. Back in 2016, we sought the Council for Higher Education’s authorization for telenursing teaching, whose unanticipated benefit has been a hybrid teaching system during lockdown – practical courses in the School when possible, online courses at home. And, with remote medicine here to stay, it has helped ground our students in its practice.”
Training nurse practitioners in telehealth was recommended by the US National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties in 2018, as was the scaling up of simulation in health professions training by the WHO – recommendations often disregarded because of deficient funding and incentives, curriculum management and readiness of school management and faculties. Ono, however, has been way ahead of the curve.
A range of innovative programs in health professions
While a BSN in Nursing is the newest addition to Ono’s Health Professions Faculty, all its degree courses in health professions excel in innovative education. These include its BA in Communication Disorders, BOT in Occupational Therapy, BSc in Sports Therapy, MA in Health and Rehabilitation and MA in Case Management. Ono is the only college in Israel that offers Sports Therapy and Health Rehabilitation degrees and the only one to offer Master’s programs in Health and Rehabilitation and in Case Management. Communication Disorders and Sports Therapy are currently developing a remote platform to examine changes in balance and hearing to help to prevent falls in the elderly. And Communication Disorders, unusually for a college, is also one of a six-member European Union consortium for the ABC (Assisting Better Communication) project.
Ono’s Occupational Therapy program, along with the Bizchut Israel Human Rights Center for People with Disabilities, was selected from 200 applicants in 45 countries for the Mobility International USA (MIUSA) Empower Partnerships for Inclusive Communities Professional Exchange Program. MIUSA commended its application as: “Outstanding in terms of your partnership sustainability, collaborative project idea, and commitment to advance disability rights and create a more disability inclusive community.”
Spearheading social innovation
New technologies and breakthrough ideas and inventions are what we usually mean by innovation, but aside from the industrial and business worlds and their views of incremental, disruptive and radical innovation, there is also far more basic change. In particular, there is social innovation, which Ono has spearheaded throughout its quarter century.
In making higher education accessible to communities and individuals who believe they have no home in academia – those with special needs, Arabs, immigrants from Ethiopia, Russia and beyond, Druze and Beduin, secular, observant and ultra-Orthodox – the College is a force for social integration. A model of inclusive programming and education-based social reform, its student body reflects Israel’s entire population, with the new campus near Kiryat Ono, which opens in 2023, to be a home for all.
Founded in 1995, Ono Academic College is Israel’s largest private college and one of its fastest growing institutes of higher education. Its four campuses (in Kiryat Ono, Jerusalem, Haifa and Or Yehuda, this last for Haredi students) boast 17,000 students and 40,000 alumni.
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