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Partner Perspectives: Worcester Tech Students Offer Creative Solutions for Hospital Upgrade

By Michael Franklin
President & CEO
Atlantic General Hospital
Berlin, MD

It’s been roughly five years since Worcester Technical High School reached out to our hospital to explore ways to work together and expose students to real-world health care environments and challenges. Today, I’m pleased to report that the collaboration has been enormously successful, and has even exceeded my expectations.

This truly is a win-win—for career-minded students as well as hospital professionals like me, who are reminded that new ideas can come from any source.

Under the direction of former Worcester biomedical science teacher Tracy Hunter and pre-engineering teacher Valerie Ziglejeva, a team of highly talented, dedicated, and resourceful students studying biomedical engineering and architecture/engineering design came together to suggest how we could redesign our Emergency Room to improve the experience for patients, families, and caregivers.

We gave the students some ground rules at the outset—and then let them run with it. For example, we told them they’d need to follow the laws and guidelines governing hospital construction. They then had to research this on their own.

The results were terrific: We got a fresh perspective on creating a better health care experience. We hope to incorporate some of their suggestions into our master facilities plan—including, one day perhaps, a sustainable roof garden.

As for the students?

They surprised and excited us. Before heading off to college, or a job, they’ve had a chance to see why they need to know algebra and other subjects that don’t always come to life.

And who knows? Perhaps some of these students will decide to settle down here—and bring all these new-found skills in bioscience and engineering right back to our community, and perhaps even our hospital.