July 18, 2022 – Shelton State Community College math instructor Shywanda Moore was selected and recently participated in an Alabama STEM Council Externship at DCH Medical Center in Tuscaloosa.
Sponsored by the Governor’s STEM Workforce Development Council, the Alabama STEM Council’s STEM Industry Externship Program provides educators with externship experiences in STEM-based public and private industries, deepening the connection between STEM workplaces and the classroom. Through the program, educators learn about important workplace skill requirements, trends, best practices, and technology and tools needed for success in today’s STEM based fields.
The opportunity to participate in the externship was of particular importance to Moore. Upon arriving to Shelton State in 2010, she was asked to create a statistics course. When it first launched, it was comprised mostly of liberal arts students with a few students in healthcare. By summer of 2022, her students were predominately majoring in nursing or a similar field. As a former business major, she recognized her limitations in understanding how to tie the course material into requirements for healthcare professionals, and she wanted to make necessary adjustments. Moore then applied to be part of the STEM Externship.
Following her selection for the program, Moore was matched with a six-day externship at DCH Regional Medical Center, and she partnered with Dr. Wendi Parminter, Director of Volunteer Services, as her facilitator. For three days, she shadowed and worked in the Clinical Informatics Department. During this time, Moore learned about the importance of analyzing information to provide quality care and saw statistical information being applied in the healthcare setting.
During the second three days of her externship, Moore worked on Excel projects for Volunteer Services, met with Information Technology, worked in the Pharmacy, and shadowed Nurse Manager, Jess Chute. Of these experiences, Moore indicated that shadowing a nursing manger was the most eye-opening. “Statistics were used in every facet of the daily experience,” she said. “From patient length of stay estimates to attending a GEMBA walk, statistics and the application of statistics were front and center.”
Among the many things she learned during the externship, Moore repeatedly saw the importance of soft skills. “The number one lesson learned from this experience was that soft skills are important,” she stated. “Throughout my externship, I saw individuals working and collaborating as a department, between departments, and as a department to the community.”
Shelton State students are introduced to the necessity of soft skills via the College’s Quality Enhancement Plan, REALSKILL: Education that Prepares. Specific skills addressed are decision making, personal responsibility in the form of self-motivation and work ethic, and professional communication. As a result of her externship, Moore plans to incorporate even more soft skill development opportunities into her course.
Moore found the STEM externship experience to be rewarding in a variety of ways. “After 22 years of teaching college students, it was nice to be back in a workplace setting where I could see what I teach in daily activities,” she indicated. “It reenergized me and it opened my mind to new possibilities within the course.”
For more about academic programs and the College’s Quality Enhancement Plan, visit sheltonstate.edu.