New Malcolm X campus offers state-of-the-art healthcare training

Malcolm X Building Exterior

By Branden Hampton

The state-of-the-art healthcare simulation labs at the new $251 million Malcolm X College campus will help better prepare students for careers in high-demand health science fields.

The simulation emergency room, ambulatory and trauma labs will allow faculty to replicate the vital signs and other physical responses of a critically ill patient, using a mannequin that must be correctly taken from the lab’s ambulance to virtual ER for urgent care, according to Daniel Okhilua, nursing lab manager at Malcolm X College.

“Students learn each role and how to interact with each team member for the overall goal of caring for the patient,” Okhilua added.

David Sanders, interim president of Malcolm X College, said the new campus and virtual lab give Malcolm X “a competitive advantage versus other institutions because we have the environment in which they would work in, to test them in and determine their level of competency.”

“There are very few institutions, especially community colleges, that have this type of investment for its students,” Sanders added.

There are currently 605 health science students enrolled at Malcolm X College, according to Amy Gray, associate dean of health science and career programs at Malcolm X College.

Construction began on the new 544,000 square foot campus in September 2013.  The new facility is located directly across the street from the old campus on the West Side. The campus recently opened up for students and faculty in early January.

“I think just being in the medical district, number one, is a huge draw for students. Having all of our programs under one roof is another big benefit, as well as having simulation in the virtual hospital,” said Pam Nugent, director of the respiratory care program.

“This new establishment has many opportunities for [students] to have this working experience, especially with the new floors with the simulation labs with the mannequins. It’s very cool,” declared Jazmine Martinez,  an aspiring nurse.

Robbie Johnson, who is studying criminal justice at Malcolm X,  said the school has “more classes for me…that’s going toward my major.”

More benefits to the community

In addition to providing students with hands-on experience, the new campus will also provide many benefits to residents on the West Side, including dental hygiene cleanings. Jobs were also provided during the construction of the campus.

“If you take a look at simply the construction of the building itself, the total jobs created was approximately 950,” said Aymen Halim, media director at Malcolm X College.

Halim also noted that training was available to qualified residents within the community to get training in construction through the City Colleges’ Dawson Technical Institute (located at Kennedy-King College in Englewood).

“There were also scholarships available. In order to do the training, there was a fee, but it could be waived given some criteria,” said Halim.

For health careers, Malcolm X College is partnered with Rush University Medical Center as a part of the City Colleges of Chicago’s College to Careers Initiative, which aligns each City College of Chicago with an industry partner that provide students with internships, facilities and real-world experience.

According to Halim, Malcolm X students would be able to complete their clinical rotations at Rush University Medical Center and students studying to be surgical technicians could receive training also.

In a prepared statement released by the City Colleges of Chicago, once students completed training, they became eligible for jobs with sub-contractors. Some of the available positions included plumbers, electricians and carpenters.

Through March, a number of students will have jobs as “student ambassadors,” showing visitors the new campus and facilities.

Charles Taylor, former assistant band director at Malcolm X College who played with the alumni band at the reception ceremony held on the first day of winter classes, expressed how he felt the new campus would benefit the community.

“I think it’s going to give them a sense of pride and also the skills that they need to when they go out in the job market to get a job to get hired. It gives you a different sense when you know where you’re from and what you can afford,” said Taylor.

“The price is right and the facilities are great and I think it’s going to be wonderful,” Taylor added.

Photo at top: The brand new campus of Malcolm X College officially opened in early January on the West Side. (Branden Hampton/MEDILL)