CALAIS _ A successful college program leads to jobs and that is what students at the Washington County Community College have learned
More than a dozen students who graduated from the college’s Medical Assisting Program are now working at local health centers and hospitals. Others have gone onto health centers and hospitals across the state and country.
Finding a job upon graduation has been a panacea for both the students and the local health care facilities that do not have to look far to find trained help.
At Eastport Healthcare, Chief Executive Officer Holly Gartmayer-DeYoung said they regularly hire graduates from the college.
“EHC values WCCC for its vision and responsiveness to providing local affordable options for a quality education. When we receive an applicant who has graduated from the WCCC program, we know the candidate will be prepared with a skill set that is exemplary,” she said “We welcome WCCC MA students to rotate through our health center.”
Gartmayer-DeYoung also praised the teaching staff. “Instructor Nikki Dubey has been remarkably responsive to EHC. She is the only college faculty member in Maine who has partnered with a healthcare provider to understand and include the Patient Centered Medical Home in the MA course curriculum,” she said.
Calais Regional Hospital’s director of Practice Management, Camela J. Deschene agreed
“Our medical assistants are a versatile and valuable addition to CRMS. They can manage a wide range of tasks from front-office functions and patient flow, to patient care,” she said. “Our relationship with WCCC is vital in recruiting medical assistants. WCCC provides an excellent education program, and we partner with them by volunteering to have MA students rotate through our practices during their training where they receive valuable on-site instruction and experience.”
Students also praised the training they received at WCCC. “As an older student, I found WCCC to be extremely convenient, offering flexible classes that worked with my full-time work schedule,” Bobbie Jo Aguilar, EHC medical assistant said. “The small, friendly environment there was just what I needed to succeed and thrive in my classes. I did my clinical at Eastport Healthcare and believe the opportunity of learning there coupled with my high-quality education at WCCC helped secure my position at EHC, while still attending my last semester.”
EHC medical assistant Cynthia Light agreed. “Getting my education at WCCC, which was close to home, accommodated my busy life. I have two school-aged children and I worked full time. The classes worked around my schedule and the instructors understood the perils of living in Washington County,” she said. “I feel the top-notch education I received at WCCC ran counter to the stereotype of community college in such a rural area. I knew after graduating and doing my clinical internship, the type of setting I wished to work in. I quickly applied for a position at EHC. There, I work with fellow graduates of the same program and could not ask for better co-workers. The training we all received from the Medical Assisting Program at WCCC prepared us all to be successful and ready to do the job.”
David Sousa, academic dean, said he was very pleased with the college programs offered at WCCC and said the college continues to look for programs that will lead to jobs.
In January, the college is offering two new programs _an associate degree in Health Care Management and a one-year certificate in phlebotomy. “Both programs are the results of money provided by the Maine State Legislature during its last session,” he said.
The new law, LD 90, “An Act to Strengthen Maine’s Workforce and Economic Future,” will fund college training programs that lead to immediate jobs.
According to the Maine State Legislature’s web site, “The bill proposes to strengthen the state’s middle class and improve the state’s business climate by making targeted and strategic investments in the state’s workforce, place-based economic engines and small businesses.”
In addition, the web site added, “The bill proposes to close the so-called ‘skills gap’ between the state’s workforce and the needs of the state’s employers through a renewed partnership among the state’s workers, educators and businesses.”
Sousa said that future job numbers supported the expanded medical training programs at the college. “We analyzed all of the data on jobs and it appears that most of the jobs that are going to be created in Maine over the next decade or two are in health care,” he said.
According to state data, although manufacturing is expected to continue to decline in job numbers, it is anticipated that more than 15,000 new jobs will be created in the health care and social assistance programs.
Additional stats revealed that since 2007 manufacturing and construction account for two-thirds of the job losses, while four sectors have posted gains. The largest gain has been in health care and social assistance.
Tina Erskine. WCCC’s director of human resources, said that WCCC understands the need for an expanded program in the field of medicine. “When you look at our medical assisting program and look across at doctors’ hospitals and health care centers you will find that many of the medical assistants who work in those offices are graduates from WCCC,” she said.
Individuals, who wish to apply for either of the two new programs, should do so now. “It is not too early,” Sousa said. He anticipates classes will fill up fast.
In 2013, WCCC was named one of “America’s Top 50 Community Colleges” by Washington Monthly. The college was named number 24 out of 700 community colleges nationwide.
Anyone who wishes to apply should contact the WCCC at 454-1000.