Patient Care Technician program receives grant

AURORA, Colo. – Community College of Aurora has been selected as one of 17 colleges nationally from 90 applicants to participate in the Job Ready, Willing and Able project funded by the Walmart Foundation through the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC). 

CCA will receive $150,000 over three years to launch a new Patient Care Technician (PCT) certificate program and assist unemployed community residents with healthcare skills and job placement. The funding is part of an overall $4.19 million outlay for Job Ready, Willing and Able (JRWA) by Walmart Foundation that includes $2.67 million directly supporting the 17 community colleges across the country.

The JRWA initiative addresses current and potential growth of jobs in communities, with colleges working closely with local businesses, economic development leaders and area workforce systems to collaboratively address the needs of the unemployed.

CCA currently is building out its healthcare education and training programs in a deliberate and systematic way in response to employer demand. A 25 percent growth rate is projected for healthcare support occupations through 2020 – more than twice the statewide rate for jobs overall.

The expanded healthcare launch at CCA begins in Fall 2014 through the Healthcare Bridge Certificate program, which is designed to provide medical terminology; contextualized communication; and basic patient care skills for English as a Second Language students.

The PCT certificate program represents an important next phase and furthers the college’s emphasis on ‘stackable’ credentials. These intentionally linked academic curriculum have labor market value and increase an individual’s employment and earnings power.

“The potential for this program to change lives is huge,” Community College of Aurora President Betsy Oudenhoven said. “We have students in our service area who simply need workforce skills, and providing them with an education that functions as a swift entry into a good job in the community while meeting local healthcare needs is what it’s all about.”

Demand for building additional training capacity at CCA is supported by partners including: Arapahoe/Douglas Works!, Medical Center of Aurora, Aurora Mental Health Center, Anschutz Medical Campus Community-Campus Partnership, and The Greater Metro Denver Healthcare Partnership, a consortium of seven healthcare systems.

Such local healthcare partners have impressed upon the college a continued need for training certified nursing aides (CNA), phlebotomy technicians, and EKG technicians, as well as patient care technicians, who are credentialed and skilled in all three areas. The industry is bracing for an influx of baby boomers requiring increased medical care in the coming years.

“From the perspective of the Anschutz Medical Campus, this program will have mutually beneficial outcomes in that we’ll have a trained workforce who will be prepared for the healthcare jobs that exist on the campus, and the campus will benefit from having local residents employed here,” said Robert McGranaghan, director of the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus Community-Campus Partnership.

The CCA curriculum funded with seed money by Job Ready, Willing and Able calls for 220 unemployed students to take part in the design and launch of 11 cohorts over the first three years in the three individual disciplines – CNA, Phlebotomy, and EKG. The build-out will culminate with students in year three having the ability to sequentially pursue the three separate certificates and graduate with the PCT certificate.

The national grant aims to provide more than 5,000 unemployed adults with new skills, credentials and jobs.

With the JRWA initiative targeting unemployed individuals, CCA expects that some of the initial PCT students will be eligible for its Center for Workforce Development’s (CFWD) services. These services include tuition stipends, economic support, workshops, and one-on-one coaching. Students who are not directly eligible for the CFWD services will be encouraged to participate in the career workshops and be referred to CCA’s Career Center for additional workshops and one-on-one assistance.

The college also will have success coaches dedicated to students within the PCT program.

“We are proud to continue our work with Walmart Foundation at a time when the nation is focused on middle-skill careers and opportunities,” said Walter Bumphus, AACC president and CEO. “This initiative is a model for how community colleges can connect with students with specific, sustainable jobs in their communities and contribute to long-term economic growth.”

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