Augusta Tech students receive hands-on training from new programs

Published: May. 26, 2023 at 5:18 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Big things are happening at Augusta Technical College.

So many big things, they’re calling it the Big Five.

The patch, the auto technology body shop, the nursing building, the advanced manufacturing building, and a soon-to-be-announced entrepreneurship program are all brand new or in the works at Augusta Tech.

We went to the nursing building to show how the program hopes to help with the healthcare shortage.

One of the interactive programs with Augusta Tech is a nursing partnership that started this year with Piedmont Hospital.

One veteran says when he decided to go back to school, he never imagined his classroom would have a hospital bed in it.

Steven Valentin is studying to be a radiology technician, but his college classroom isn’t like the others.

“I would have never imagined that I would be in a classroom that looked like this,” said Valentin.

It’s in a hospital with real radiology monitors, lights, see-through mannikins, and more.

“We get to use these machines to take photographic or radiographic images of specific body parts. And here in this environment, we get to actually use the real equipment, the actual equipment that we’ll be using,” said Valentin.

It’s part of a bigger plan.

Dr. Jermaine Whirl, President of Augusta Tech, said: “One of the things I think a lot of college students, college graduates have faced over probably the last two decades is that you come out of college with a degree in credential, which is great. And then you apply for that first job. And what’s the first question they ask, ‘Well, do you have two years’ experience?’ And the answer is like, ‘Well, no’.”

Dr. Whril says there’s a need for hands-on training which is why they’ve created interactive programs from nursing to auto technology and repairs.

“When our students graduate from the manufacturing facility, they can legitimately say I worked in a manufacturing training facility. If they’re coming out of healthcare, I worked in an actual hospital,” said Dr. Whril.

Valentin says he’s already seeing a difference in the classroom.

“Our mannequin, Pamela, is super helpful. Because we’re able to see the anatomy just from looking at her. And ultimately, upon graduation, what we’re hoping to achieve is that we’ll be able to just look at everyone and see what we see when we see Pamela. I’ll be able to look at someone in Walmart and say, you know, be able to see their humerus,” said Valentin.

He says the hands-on experience keeps his sight set on the patient.

“Walking down the hallways reminds us that that’s what we’re here for, this is what we’re doing. In other words, we never lose, lose sight of the focus, we never lose sight that the focus is the patient,” said Valentin.

The Piedmont Foundation raised more than $1 million to support nursing education.

Dr. Whirl says any student who comes to Augusta Tech can have their education paid for with a guaranteed job at Piedmont Augusta if they choose that path.