Parkland sets information sessions on health professions

CHAMPAIGN — Parkland College will hold a series of information sessions about its health professions programs.

Anyone interested in a health career is invited to attend. Applicants to the programs range from new high school graduates to older adults making career changes, says Rita Myles, program manager for Parkland's health careers program.

One program to turn out certified nurse assistants is even drawing people in their 50s and 60s, she says.

"I get phone calls from people saying 'I'm going to be your oldest student,' and I say, 'No you're not,'" Miles said.

Parkland's health programs also include dental hygiene, dietary management, emergency medical services, hearing instrument dispenser, massage therapy, medical assistant, medical lab technician, a variety of nursing options, occupational therapy assistant, radiologic assistant, respiratory care, surgical technology and veterinary technology.

People to fill these jobs are in demand, Myles said, but the application process at Parkland is competitive.

Your chances of getting into the programs are based on your grades, but returning students starting over who might not have done so well in high school also get second chances, she said.

They can take 15 credit hours worth of general education classes at Parkland, including one lab-based science class, and use that grade point average to apply to a health program at Parkland, Myles said.

Parkland now requires anyone entering a nursing program to be a certified nurse assistant, Myles said.

The certified nurse assistant program is now offered at many area high schools, and many students coming to Parkland's nursing program have already completed it, she said. It's a one-semester course at Parkland.

Because of the demand for nurses, Parkland is waiving the requirement to be considered for admission to the nursing program for the spring 2013 semester for students enrolled in the nurse assistant program this semester, Myles said.

The requirement is intended to bring people into nursing programs who already have some experience with nursing duties, and weed out those who might not be suited to patient care. Nurse assistants get experience feeding, dressing, grooming and transferring patients, she said.

Myles said it's not unusual to see people in their 50s or 60s making a career change to nurse assistant or home health care.

"Home care is booming," she said.

Another job for which she is seeing a demand, she says: medical assistants who work in doctor's offices taking patients' vital signs, medical histories, giving injections and helping with procedures.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists among its fastest growing professions between 2010 and 2020: personal care aides, home health aides and technicians, occupational therapy assistants, physical therapists, physical therapy assistants and aides, medical secretaries, dental hygienists, diagnostic medical sonographers, health educators, mental health counselors, and marriage and family therapists.

Pet health is growing field, too. Veterinarians and vet technicians are also included on the list.

Parkland's health career information sessions will be held from 5 to 6 p.m. Sept. 18, Oct. 9, Oct. 23, Nov. 8, Nov. 29 and Dec. 6 at Parkland on Mattis, 1309 N. Mattis Ave., C.

For more information on Parkland's health profession programs, see http://bit.ly/PiFwOY

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