Stanbridge College added an associate of veterinary technology program this year, and President and Chief Executive Yasith Weerasuriya showed a recent visitor the cat cadavers to prove it.
He said Stanbridge “vet tech” students use them in their studies—part of the school’s focus on hands-on training, and one of several new programs this year.
The private vocational college serves 1,200 students—mainly in health sciences—who pay $10,000 to $39,000 a year, depending on the program they’re in.
Its growth comes as for-profit schools have come under greater scrutiny. Corinthian Colleges Inc. in Santa Ana, for instance, is winding down its operations after federal investigations into its programs and promotions.
But at Stanbridge, new efforts abound around its three-building campus near John Wayne Airport.
In fact, you can’t swing a dead … well, let’s just say Stanbridge is on a growth streak.
In addition to the veterinary program, the school in the past year has:
• spent $1 million on new equipment, including life-like interactive mannequins for medical training;
• launched a master of science in occupational therapy in October 2013;
• and begun an online master of science degree in nursing in August.
The school also started an associate of science in nursing this month.
It only teaches the hard stuff: training that leads to professional-level certification rather than a general approach to vocational education.
“We do nothing that doesn’t lead to licensure,” Weerasuriya said.
Most of its new equipment is for health sciences programs, a prime growth area because of an aging population and other factors.
College nursing and health programs require “clinicals”—training at healthcare facilities—but Weerasuriya said, “We want them to practice on campus even before that.”
Stanbridge students in several programs have passed licensing exams at high rates. From 2007 to 2013, for instance, 92% of its vocational nursing students passed the nursing licensing exam, the National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX.
The new equipment this year is meant to help them do even better.
Now a dozen simulation dummies powered by computer chips can be manipulated from a control center.
The mannequins lie in beds as if in a hospital ward and behave like humans. They can cry, breathe, give birth and pee. There’s an infant mannequin near its computer-chipped mother.
Controlling all this “life” is Larry Van Vleet, the nursing simulation lab coordinator.
“You can get (fake) blood on the floor,” he said, “just like in a hospital room.”
It means Stanbridge can prepare students for life-and-death situations as health professionals, he said.
Students are supervised during their “preclinical” practice, and they’re filmed.
Van Vleet said students watch “game film” just as accomplished athletes would, to learn from mistakes.
Veterinary students practice on lifelike canine and feline mannequins.
Classrooms at Stanbridge are similarly appointed—not with blood on the floor but with technology such as Smart Boards in place of whiteboards, attendance monitoring via tablets, and real-time electronic student polling during class to measure student comprehension and moderate the pace of the class.
“There’s no paper,” Weerasuriya said. “There’s no wasted time.”
The work continues.
During a recent visit, signs of renovation—drop cloths, plaster and paint—were in abundance.
Upgrades extend to new ways to feed students: a burrito vending machine: think Taco Bell plus RedBox.
Stanbridge was founded in 1996 to focus on information technology and added programs, mainly in healthcare-related industries, to meet needs.
“The prospects for employment in our program areas are strong,” Weerasuriya said. “We don’t touch areas that don’t yield good employment statistics.”
He said the college has consciously stayed small—a “focused technical training school”—and followed demographics that create demand when adding or expanding programs.
Stanbridge is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges in Arlington, Va. Individual programs have degree-specific accreditation.
The school is privately owned by investors.
Weerasuriya said he has some equity in it.