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Five dimensions of care in higher education

Providing academic and career support for post-secondary students isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s an organizational imperative that shows up in outcomes. Ultimate Medical Academy (UMA), which began operating more than 27 years ago, follows a student-supported model. This approach not only makes skills training and certification more accessible to a broad range of learners, but it also effectively equips and empowers graduates to excel in healthcare careers – roles for which there is a vital need throughout Florida and around the country.

Since the onset of organized education, teaching philosophies have evolved in response to cultural change and, more recently, data. Students used to be seen as passive recipients of knowledge, to be lectured and tested by faculty with little focus on the individual learner. In the later 20th century, students became more dynamic participants in their own education, but education had barely begun to extend past the classroom. In the 21st century, we understand that each student must be instructed as a complex, unique individual whose learning experience is influenced by their life circumstances.

As postsecondary education becomes increasingly important for jobseekers across disciplines, making education accessible should be a top priority. This is even more important given the fact that the nontraditional learners who form the core of UMA’s enrollees could become the norm rather than the exception. These nontraditional learners – adult learners, those with children, and those who are the first in their family to complete postsecondary education – need specialized consideration from their institutions of higher education.

UMA doesn’t compete with four-year colleges and universities, but rather provides an alternative educational pathway. We recognize that each learner has unique life circumstances outside the classroom that influence their experience inside the classroom, and we design our instructional models with that in mind.

UMA supports students through every step of the educational process: admissions, instruction, and career. Each student is paired with a dedicated advisor at every stage, allowing us to measure the efficacy of the learning experience for each individual and customize support accordingly. We provide opportunities to learn in-person or virtually, giving students the flexibility to fit education into their life instead of having to fit their life into education.

Our support services encompass five dimensions of care: Academic, Financial, Psychological, Practical, and Vocational.

  1. The Academic dimension includes monitoring individual performance and intervening with assistance when a student, who may not have experienced the conventions of the classroom in some time, falls behind.
  2. Financial literacy is foundational to success. We work with students to help them understand borrowing, repayment options, and the importance of staying current on loan payments. We also provide students resources on how to budget, how to manage credit and debit cards, how to build a good credit history and how to protect their personal information.
  3. Providing Psychological care means that our experts monitor and protect the mental wellbeing of students. This can range from a friendly pep talk to talking through the very real challenges that a student may be facing and offering resources to help.
  4. Practical care extends to how students manage their studies both in and beyond the classroom. From teaching time management to arranging for childcare, providing appropriate clothes for an interview, or even transportation, we have found that helping students navigate these practicalities demonstrates our commitment to their success.
  5. Finally, our Vocational care goes beyond offering career advice. The non-traditional student needs more; from finding and selecting a job, to interview preparation, to easing the transition into the workplace, this bridging care is the final piece of our care model.

UMA is providing a student-supported approach to higher education, providing clear pathways to economic opportunity in a growing field for underserved populations. By centering care and support UMA makes learning attainable, allowing more people to succeed.

I invite you to learn more at www.ultimatemedical.edu/

Thomas Rametta is President of Ultimate Medical Academy, where he leads UMA’s mission to equip and empower students to excel in healthcare careers. His work includes developing a diverse, talented team to support students throughout their academic and career journey, ensuring the institution operates responsibly and always champions student outcomes.