LCC Provides Fast Track for Health Careers

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Six years ago, Lansing Community College was training paramedics in the hallways, and offering health classes in nooks and crannies of outdated buildings. Today, the college has facilities that match the high quality and reputation of its programs.

“Nobody does anything alone,” said Roberta Peterson, dean of human, health and public services careers from her new office in a new building on the Downtown Campus. “We wouldn’t have this building or our West Campus without community support.”

Completed in early 2006, the health and human services building gave LCC the boost it needed to push forward with career training programs in high-demand fields.  Through technology-laden classrooms, simulated hospital facilities, and uniquely designed, career-specific training labs and clinics, students receive more and better hands-on training that prepares them to serve mid-Michigan with confidence.

“We exist to serve the changing needs of the community,” said Peterson of the nearly 30 different career programs in her division, “and with their help, we’re working hard to keep up.”

 

Winning combinations

The majority of courses through the human, health and public services careers division take place on the main campus at LCC, with public service careers such as fire science, criminal justice and EMS on the new West Campus.

The division encompasses a range of interrelated career options. Certificates and degrees are available in areas such as child development, community and allied services, and health careers. Many lead to jobs as registered and licensed practical nurses, nursing assistants, dietary managers, medical technicians and clerks, dental hygienists, imaging technologists and massage therapists. The college curriculum also features highly regarded programs in corrections, law enforcement, fire science and emergency medical services.

“It sounds like a broad spectrum, but there are links across all programs,” said Peterson. “If you look closely, you’ll see that all our offerings are closely allied.”

Students can choose a combination of courses that can help get them jobs in today’s economy. Many courses run at convenient times to accommodate working students, and involve hands-on experience in clinical or lab settings—either in LCC facilities or in hospitals, clinics or other work settings.

Students can opt for two-year associate’s degrees that lead to entry-level positions or transfer to bachelor’s degree programs. Many students, too, enroll in popular Rapid Entry to the Workforce programs. Through one, two or three semester-length courses, students can earn the credentials they need to land decent-paying jobs in several allied health and community-related areas, as well as those on the first rung of a career ladder.

“We’re helping hundreds of people every semester to get into jobs through these types of courses,” said Peterson, citing the number of displaced workers who come to LCC for retraining. “It works tremendously, and is a wonderful thing.”

By the numbers

In 2004, LCC joined community partners and Capital Area Michigan WORKS! to assess the economic impact of healthcare in mid-Michigan. The study revealed that since 1977 healthcare employment in the capital area tripled, while manufacturing employment dropped by 40 percent. Today, about 7.5 percent of all workers in the capital area work in the healthcare sector. By 2012, nearly 4,000 new and replacement healthcare workers will be needed.

On any given day, about 1,000 of the 20,000 students attending LCC are on track to receive credentials in high-demand human, health or public service-related fields. Of those who graduate, about 77 percent go on to work in Greater Lansing. The largest program, by far, is nursing.

“Four years ago, we were admitting 96 students a year,” said Peterson. “This winter, we’re admitting 224 per year.”

That 133 percent increase illustrates supply and demand, as well as the commitment the college is making to abate the current shortage of healthcare workers—particularly in nursing. With the average age of nurses at 57, Peterson isn’t alone in anticipating the tidal wave of retirements that could affect the quality of care nationwide.

“Other states are in the same situation,” said Peterson. “The fact is, even if we graduate full classes in every college in the state, we will not meet that need.”

In a race to beat the inevitable, LCC began an accelerated nursing program, which compresses two years of nursing into one for students with bachelor’s degrees. Along with the part-time and fast-track programs for licensed professionals, the college may soon have as many as 500 students enrolled in some form of nursing education. More faculty have come onboard, and additional clinical sites have been identified to meet stiff accreditation standards.

Combined with the new facilities, and plans to expand and add labs on the building’s third floor, Peterson said the future is bright for students seeking a quality nursing education.

“We listen to our community; we work with our community,” said Peterson. “The support we receive shows the huge impact we’ve had over the years.”

Promoting access

As the health, human and public services sectors continue to grow, LCC is poised to meet the demand for the region’s educational resources.

“Community colleges are about access,” said Peterson. “We’re constantly looking at ways to provide affordability without sacrificing quality.”

Since programs can be costly, college leadership is continually seeking out new funding sources, as well as community and educational partners. Funding through the Workforce Innovation and Regional Economic Development Grant will help propel the accelerated nursing program for three to four years, and partnerships with health departments are in the works to set up on-campus health clinics on the Downtown Campus.

Articulation agreements are constantly being fine-tuned or added to support curriculum in health, human and public service careers. Among the more recent are an internationally accredited program for a fire science bachelor’s degree with Lake Superior State University, and others for health, human and public service careers that involve Central Michigan University, Ferris State University, University of Michigan-Flint and Michigan State University.

Looking to the future, LCC began increasing partnerships with K-12 institutions to encourage more students to consider health careers. To date, about 700 high school students attend courses in math and science at various LCC locations to prepare for advanced coursework. Plans are also in place to get more high school students into actual workplace settings to get acquainted with the pace of a particular career.

“We’re always working to be better at what we do,” said Peterson of some of the progress and plans for her division. “It’s a continual journey.”

Author: Ann Kammerer
Photography: Terri Shaver


Human, Health and Public Service Careers

Roberta H. Peterson, Dean

LCC, P.O. Box 40010, Lansing

517-483-9931 • www.lcc.edu/hhps

 

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