Helping people prepare for jobs in the booming health care industry is the purpose of the Health Professions Pathways (H2P) Project at Ashland Community and Technical College.
Last year we served 244 students interested in health care careers,” said Nikki Bryant, ACTC Associate Professor and H2P Project Director. “We also reached out to hundreds of people interested in learning more about health care opportunities.”
The H2P Project is funded by a U. S. Department of Labor grant to redesign and enhance health profession training programs for trade-impacted and other low skill workers. ACTC is part of a national Health Professions Pathways (H2P) Consortium that received a total of $19 million in Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College & Career Training Grants.
ACTC’s three year grant, received in 2011, is being used to develop a health core curriculum with local health care employers and Workforce Investment Act partners and to create a simulation laboratory, contextualized mathematics course and clear career pathway for allied health students.
The grant targets health care because it is a booming industry that so far has been recession-proof. Health care jobs continued to grow faster than the U.S. economy in 2012, and the demand for health care, and thus the need for more health care workers, is expected to keep growing well into the future.
“We’re here for individuals who have lost their jobs, those looking to get started in the workforce and current employees who want to prepare for a better job,” said Robin Taylor, H2P Success Coordinator.
“Many times, people considering a return to school don’t know where to start,” she said. “We can help them take that first step and lead them to the next steps for education and training. We have information about the different careers available in healthcare, what those jobs require, what those jobs pay, and what education is required for each one.”
In order to reach people who may benefit from health care career information, grant staff visit, area workforce offices, job fairs and veterans’ expos, and they speak with high school seniors on campus visits.
“In the past year, we set up office hours at workforce offices in Ashland and Ironton so that we could speak directly to individuals who were laid-off or had become TAA workers,” Taylor said. “We also participated in a Rapid Response Team presentation at the Ashland workforce office for Sun Chemical employees affected by the shutdown of their plant.”
Grant staff also give presentations to organizations in order to reach potential employers and encourage community participation. “We have been able to present to our local Kiwanis Club as well as at the Chamber of Commerce afterhours meeting,” Taylor said. “We continue to seek out additional community groups who would be interested inH2P information.”
H2P Student Services
Giving people information on health care choices is the first step. The next step is to help ACTC students.
On campus, H2P works with the Adult Learning Center, Veterans Service Coordinator and Advising Center to reach potential students. Students can get counseling career paths and appropriate courses.
Taylor attends student orientation sessions to talk about the ways that H2P is ready to help, and she is available to meet with students after orientation on what steps they should take next. Taylor also shows students how to use the online Virtual Career Network (VCN) for career exploration and training tools.
“Current and potential students are invited to talk to me about their career goals and possibilities,” said Taylor. “We help students find and prepare for entry-level career opportunities in healthcare and health-related services. They can develop marketable skills for a smooth transition into an Allied Health occupation or for application to a selective admission healthcare program.”
“H2P helps me plan my course schedule to make sure I take only the classes I need,” said Brenda Meeker, a Sciotoville resident and ACTC student who is preparing to apply for the Associate Degree Nursing program. She’s been a nurses’ aide for 17 years and is ready for a career change.
“Juggling college, work and family can be stressful, and having a person to go to for advice when you have problems is really helpful,” said Meeker, who has been a nurse’s aide for 17 years. “Going to school isn’t easy when you work 32 hours a week, but I know it will be worth it in the long run.”
Meeker took a math class through H2P and student Vanessa Dheel took Pathophysiology and Basic Core I classes through H2P. These and other classes are offered to give students a chance to develop college level skills while experiencing different aspects of health care.
“Even though I’ve decided on Pharmacy, I still wanted to explore different fields. Through H2P, I gained a lot of knowledge that will help me in my career,” said Dheel, an Ashland resident. “My goal is to earn an Associate Degree and take as many classes as I can for transfer to Marshall University’s Pharmacy Program.”
H2P can help students select core courses such as Biology or Anatomy and Physiology for diploma or degree programs as well as SNRA (State Registered Nurses Aide) and Phlebotomy courses that are offered multiple times each semester.
Many of ACTC’s general education and core courses are required for completion of professional health programs such as diagnostic medical sonography, medical assisting, nursing, physical therapy assistant, radiography, respiratory care, and surgical technology.
For associate degree seeking students, H2P is developing a core curriculum certificate that can be part of the Health Sciences Technology program. Along the way, students can earn additional credentials like the SRNA that will allow them to gain employment even before finishing a degree program.
Students may also be able to earn certificates in other curricula such as Advanced Nursing Assistant, Phlebotomy for the Healthcare Worker, Pharmacy Technician I and Insurance Coding.
Another grant activity is to develop health care courses for students preparing for immediate employment as well as those preparing for acceptance into a selective admissions program.
Courses offered this fall are Health Care Delivery & Management, Medical Terminology, Pathophysiology, Communication for Health Professionals, Pharmacology, Basic Core Skills I, Basic Core Skills II and Foundation Mathematics for Allied Health.
“These courses would be a great for students considering healthcare,” Taylor said. “The classes also work for students already in a healthcare program who would like additional classes that complement their healthcare major.”
The courses can be combined to earn new certificates that are being developed through H2P. The Basic Health Care Foundations Certificate, which begins this fall, combines courses in basic skills, healthcare delivery and management, communications and medical terminology. An Intermediate Health Foundations Certificate now under development will include pharmacology, pathophysiology and Basic Skills II courses.
“These certificates will be applicable toward the Health Science Technology Degree, and they will help students better prepare for other health career programs,” Taylor said.
“Through H2P, we want to help current students who want have not decided on a field, area residents who want to start on a career path, working residents who want to get ready for a better job,” she said.
Health care is a good choice for a new career for three reasons – there are jobs now, there will be jobs in the future, and the jobs pay well. By 2020, there will be 5.6 million new health care jobs throughout the country
While the H2P grant does not provide tuition funding, studies have shown that the extra counseling and referral support offered by approaches like H2P are keys for student success. For more information on H2P services or community presentations, contact Taylor at ACTC, 606-326-2098 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.