HANCEVILLE — Starting this fall, Wallace State Community College will offer a new health program aimed at helping individuals who are looking for entry into the medical field, or to change gears after spending time out of the workforce, whether from losing their jobs due to the economy, downsizing or other factors.
A grant provided by the Department of Labor’s Trade Adjustment Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant program has opened the doors for a new short-term certificate in Patient Care Specialist. Through Project BOOST: Better Occupational Outcomes with Simulation Training — New Pathways to Healthcare Careers, the Patient Care Specialist program will utilize Wallace State’s state-of-the-art simulation programs and additional upgrades to train students in a new career.
Instructors and a few students were given the opportunity use some of the new equipment during a recent demonstration of 3-D mobile simulation hardware. The 3-D computer hardware components paired with 3-D teaching programs allowed the students and instructors to virtually manipulate the brain, heart and blood vessels. Using a stylus pen and wearing 3-D glasses that are tracked by a camera on the 3-D mobile monitor, the objects in the simulations could be moved by hand or when the person moved his or her head to see around of the object.
“This is just absolutely amazing,” said Kristi Fields of Oneonta, a nursing student pulled in for the demonstration where she was able to pull aside one part of the brain to see another part beneath it.
Wallace State BOOST Program director Karen Walton said the technology would be especially beneficial to persons who lost their jobs in manufacturing. “They are used to hands-on work and maneuvering tools,” she said. “The 3-D mobile workstation will be of great benefit to them.”
Veterans, their families, recent high school or GED graduates and those interested in health care fields such as nursing are also excellent candidates for the program. Veterans may be eligible for VA funding to cover the cost of the program. Wallace State GED graduates receive a one-course scholarship that could also be used toward the course requirements.
Along with the classes required for their new careers, the Patient Care Specialist program curriculum includes classes in workplace skills development, giving the students tips on how to build an attractive resume and teaching them interviewing skills they will need as the enter the workforce.
Patient Care Specialists work as part of a team to provide quality care to clients. They are responsible for measuring and recording diagnostic information such as vital signs, intake and output, client observation, equipment set up and more. They work under the supervision of nurses to provide safe, comfortable and hygienic treatment for the client. Patient Care Specialists often have the most one on one time with clients.
The Patient Care Specialist certificates are stackable, meaning the students can earn certificates in multiple specialties, increasing their marketability in the workforce. Students will be able to complete two industry-recognized certificates within two semesters, earning certification as as Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) and Electrocardiography (EKG) Technician. Students will also earn a Career Readiness Assessment Certificate.
All of the Patient Care Specialist students will take their required classes together as a cohort. The curriculum includes a combination of traditional, online and hybrid classes that will allow students to meet their home and work obligations while attending school.
Upon completion, graduates will be prepared to function as healthcare professionals in a variety of settings, such as hospitals, long term care facilities and home health agencies. Graduates may also continue their education in various health science programs, such as nursing and medical assisting.
The median annual salary nationwide for Certified Nursing Assistants, just one of the certifications for which students in the Patient Care Specialist program will be eligible, as of May 2013 was $24,890, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The median annual wage for cardiovascular technologists and technicians was $52,070 as of May 2012. The job outlook in Patient Care Specialist related careers is expected to grow by 21 percent by 2022 and by 30 percent for cardiovascular technologists and technicians.
Veterans may apply for funding through Veterans Affairs. The Wallace State Future Foundation is also providing a number of $1,000 and $500 scholarships for students in the Patient Care Specialist. For more information about the program, contact Karen Walton at 256.352.8198 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A consortium of six colleges in three states shares the $25 million grant from TAACCT. Along with Wallace State the other colleges include consortium lead Midlands Technical College, Central Carolina Technical College, Florence-Darlington Technical College, Wallace State College at Selma and Robeson Community College.