Experiential learning prepares students for the real world

Experiential learning at Minnesota State University, Mankato allows students to learn first-hand how to interact with clients and students in order to prepare them for the real world.

MNSU offers a variety of programs students are able to choose from when seeking what peaks their interest. Many undergraduate programs consist of traditional classroom settings and regular course structure. 

But other programs go above and beyond to integrate real-world experiences into everyday learning.

Programs offering hands-on opportunities include nursing, sport psychology and athletic training. 

Sports psychology lets students lead one-on-one and group sessions that are offered free of charge to MNSU athletes in order to sharpen their skills while working with clients.

Baily Chell, who received his undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Minnesota, is now in his second year in MNSU’s sports psychology master’s program.  

“You learn a lot quicker when you’re hands-on learning. You can learn as much as you want in a classroom but if you are not implementing it within at least a month from when you learned it, it kind of slips your memory and you lose it,” Chell shared.

“When you’re learning something in the classroom and you can then use it the next day it makes it unreal and makes you feel like you can utilize that going forward.”

The nursing program also allows students to get real-world experience by having those in the program observe and shadow nurses at Mankato-area clinics.

Clinicals are real-world experiences where students follow nurses on the job to see what it’s actually like in a specific specialty. 

Brooke Lott, who is in her last semester in the nursing program, had the opportunity to observe at a few clinics such as Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato, Abbott Northwestern and Fairview Ridges.

“I’ve gotten to observe baby deliveries, experience what correctional (jail) nursing is like, home health nursing and different rotations in hospitals like oncology, mental health and medical surgical floors,” Lott said. “The most beneficial thing about being able to go to clinicals and practice hands-on with real patients is the ability to combine what we have learned in the classroom and simulations while with a real patient. Everyone has their own tips and tricks and being able to get that information from so many different sources is priceless.”

Fortunately the nursing program has been able to continue letting students observe nurses on the job despite the hardships COVID has put on health care providers throughout the pandemic.

The athletic training program at MNSU allows students to learn directly how to treat and interact with patients. 

“I love that we get hands-on experience under our preceptors during our clinical experience. Learning skills in the classroom is great, but having the ability to apply them to a real patient just weeks later makes it more tangible and challenges us to critically think,” said Mitzi Guizar, a first-year student in the athletic training program at MNSU.

“Developing my interpersonal skills as a healthcare provider is something I wasn’t able to develop in my undergrad as much as I would have liked to because of limitations with COVID, so I am very thankful I am getting the opportunity now,” she said.

MNSU’s education, integrated business experience and dental hygiene program are also known to prioritize experiential learning.

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