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San Juan College adds four new health care certificate programs

Joshua Kellogg The Daily Times
The Daily Times

FARMINGTON — San Juan College has added four new health care certificate programs as part of a $1.36 million grant awarded last year to expand the pool of educated health care workers.

The college received the money as part of a grant in October 2014 from the U.S. Department of Labor as part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training initiative.

A consortium of 11 New Mexico community colleges received a total of $14.99 million to develop training programs for the technology and health care industry.

The School of Health Sciences is offering a fundamental skills in health careers certificate, along with three certificates in nursing, patient care and phlebotomy.

Students can enroll in the programs for the fall semester starting Aug. 24.

The fundamental skills certificate will serve as the foundation for students to earn a nursing assistant health care, patient care certificate and phlebotomy health care certificate, according to Teddy Farias, the dean of the School of Health Sciences.

He said the new programs will help students learn skills crucial to entering the health care industry.

"Our duty here is to create new credentials and certificates in accordance with our local health care providers to help students achieve skills and training that will make them employable," Farias said.

The college staff spoke with local health care employers about what skills and training they were looking for in employees, and those discussions influenced which certificate programs were implemented.

The programs would be helpful for those interested in entering the health care industry, according to John Buffington, the chief operating officer at San Juan Regional Medical Center.

"It works for us to have people introduced to fundamental health care and able to fill multiple roles in the hospital," Buffington said.

Buffington said it is helpful for new employees to have an introduction to health care skills and be able to understand medical terminology.

The fundamental skills certificate is a 21-credit program where students learn basic workplace skills for an entry-level position. The program covers first aid and CPR training, basic health care skills, medical terminology, and a course on medications and disease.

After earning the fundamental skills certificate, students can take six credits worth of courses to earn one of the three more speciality certificates.

Buffington said the health care industry will require more workers in the future as the overall population and current health care workers start to age.

He said projections are calling for about 400,000 job vacancies in health care by 2025.

"We're going to have more people requiring health care," Buffington said.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 and jkellogg@daily-times.com. Follow him @jkelloggdt on Twitter.