Innovation Monthly Newsletter
Making the rounds
By Corporate Communications staff.
If you’ve ever seen medical students doing rounds with a supervising doctor, either in real life or on TV, you have an idea of what it’s all about. The student will provide a status report on the patient, likely reciting name, background information, diagnoses, treatment to date and possible next steps. Rounds are an important teaching tool in the medical profession.
Rhonda Payne witnessed daily rounds when a family member was in hospital for an extended period, and she saw the impact on student learning. And she wondered … what if? What if there was a way to adapt the concept of rounds to use as a teaching tool with her marketing students? What if businesses and organizations were the ‘patients’ and students could learn hands-on how to develop ‘treatment plans’ for them?
Payne, coordinator for the Marketing Management graduate program in Fanshawe College’s Lawrence Kinlin School of Business, introduced Employer Rounds in the first semester of 2019 and immediately saw how it engaged students in a different way.
The process starts with the identification of employer organizations that can each provide three incremental learning experiences – small, medium and large – that can be accomplished over a 10-week period. The students have an opportunity to work with businesses and non-profit agencies, most local but some with a global reach. The interesting piece, for both the student and the employer, is that different students will work on different pieces of each employer project. That means that each project benefits from having different ideas, talents and perspectives brought to the table, but it also requires students to diligently document, share information and collaborate with each other. Employer Rounds provide a signature innovative learning experience for digital and traditional advanced marketing students that truly mimics a real life situation, says Payne. “Each student is engaged with three different clients over the course of a semester.”
One client is Paint Ontario, which takes place in Grand Bend in March each year and is the province’s foremost show and sale for representational painters. Among other things, marketing students will create and execute a live campaign, along with developing geo-targeted marketing strategies.
While grades and school credit are an important element of Employer Rounds, the learning experience itself is even more important. “Students are constantly being exposed to things they have never done before,” Payne explains.
Students will hear about each employer’s needs, and then compete for spots when the list of opportunities is posted online. It’s first-come, first-served and each student is required to sign up for one small, one medium and one large learning experience to work on. “It gives students a rare opportunity to choose their own learning,” says Payne. “Last semester it filled up in 11 minutes!”
As they progress through the semester, students are required to attend and log meetings with their clients, chart and track their work, keep a journal about their experiences, decisions and learning, and meet for weekly rounds with faculty members. These weekly get-togethers mimic hospital rounds – they are done in a group, with each student giving a status report and answering the professor’s questions. What’s the goal? Where are you now? Where do you need to go next? “They are continuously assessing their work and get instant feedback every week, from both faculty and peers. They may need to change direction or go back and redo something,” says Payne.
Now a program graduate, Julie Jaramillo says, “The opportunities and experiences I received from working collaboratively with three live clients were invaluable. I gained practical insight into how organizations operate and was able to deliver digital marketing services in real-time.”
Client organizations also benefit from the work done by students. “It was an exciting and invigorating process. The students asked questions that facilitated discussions and thoughts which were productive and change-focused,” says Liz MacKinnon, owner of Rejuvenate Health Services, Rejuvenate Resources and McLennan Flowers. “Having an outside perspective from those with advanced digital marketing skills was refreshing and helped us develop our future plans.”
For Rayjon Share Care of Sarnia, a non-profit that works in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, students developed tools to attract and retain supporters. “Rather than just dropping research and results in our laps, the students put in the extra effort to train us how to use the information to deliver results,” says Rayjon’s Executive Director Heather Smith.
Another happy outcome is that some students stay on with employers post-semester, some as volunteers and some as paid staff. Jaramillo was hired immediately upon graduation by one of her clients, and MacKinnon reports, “We were fortunate to hire two of the graduate students, so the process continues.”
Employer Rounds have proven to be so popular that it is now capped at 51 students and 17 client organizations, and is only offered to students in their final year of the program, says Payne. “As one doctor I spoke to described it, ‘rounds gets you out into the field – you can’t learn everything from a textbook.’ That’s what Employer Rounds do for our students.”