Work-Ready Degree for Health Care Field


Health Care Technician program starts fall semester 2013

Health care in the U.S. is a $1.668 trillion industry with with nearly 785,000 companies and about 16.8 million employees. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that health care and social assistance will generate 28 percent of all new jobs nationwide from 2010 to 2020, which translates into 5.7 million new jobs for health care professionals and technicians of every type. The demand is driven in part by seniors in the millions who are living longer but not necessarily healthier lives. The BLS also predicts that health care wages and salaries will increase 27 percent through 2014.

hct_seniorsMinnesota is one state reaping benefits from the upsurge in health care-related occupations. In a 2013 study, the Brookings Institution reported that 10.8 percent of all jobs in the Twin Cities metro area are in the health care field. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development found that health care was the only employment sector in the state that continued to expand during the recession.

In a July 2013 article in the Star Tribune, Martha Ross, a lead researcher on the Brookings study, had this to say: “There’s a long-term trend of job growth in the health care industry that you don’t see in other sectors of the economy. They’re now taking up a bigger share of the employment pie, and that’s happening in some cases because other parts of the pie are shrinking.”

Ross added that the Affordable Care Act and other reform efforts could boost the importance of support workers such as nursing assistants and home health aides. “I worry about that group of workers because they have limited career mobility and limited earnings,” Ross said. “The only way they get career mobility is to go back to school and get another certificate or degree.”

hct_male-nurseDakota County Technical College is working to meet the enormous demand for more health care workers by launching a new A.A.S. degree program: Health Care Technician. Debra MacDonald, associate dean of allied health at the college, created the new program to give students a fast,viable pathway into the world of health care, a pathway with plenty of room for advancement. The program offers general education courses that will transfer to a four-year college or university as well as professional/technical courses designed to instill the skills required to enter the health care workforce or advance a health care career.

“As a two-year Associate of Applied Science degree program, Health Care Technician will equip our students for careers, career changes and career advancement in the health care industry,” MacDonald said. “The program will also prepare students who wish to pursue a future bachelor’s degree in health care.”

Bachelor Degree Pathways

Health Care Technician A.A.S. (60 credits)

Metropolitan State University: Bachelor of Science in Nursing
As a graduate of the Health Care Technician program, you can continue coursework along a number of pathways that may include working toward your RN.

Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota: Bachelor of Science in Allied Healthcare Management
As a graduate of the Health Care Technician program, you can transfer seamlessly into this managerial program and complete your bachelor’s degree.

MacDonald pointed out that elective certifications are a key advantage built into the Health Care Technician program. Students will graduate with three certificates and have the opportunity to test for the Patient Care Technician/Assistant Certification (CPCT/A) administered by theNational Healthcareer Association. Certificates are offered in the following areas.

  • hct_ekgElectrocardiography (EDG) Technician
    • This concentration prepares you to preform diagnostic electrocardiograms at a hospital or other medical facility.
  • hct_phlebPhlebotomy
    • This concentration prepares you to be a specialist in obtaining blood samples at a clinic, hospital, laboratory or other medial facility.
  • hct_naNursing Assistant
    • This concentration prepares you to assist dependent clients, home care recipients, and patients with personal care needs.
  • hct_tmaTrained Medication Aide (TMA)
    • This concentration prepares you to dispense patient medications under the supervision of a registered nurse.
  • hct_emtEmergency Medical Technician (EMT)
    • This concentration prepares you to provide lifesaving emergency care in a variety of settings.
  • hct_pctCPCT/A (test preparation)
    • The Certified Patient Care Technician assists doctors, nurses and other health care professionals in providing direct patient care in a variety of health care environments.

Faculty Perspective

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves, B.S., NREMT-P • Allied Health Instructor

A certified paramedic and former civilian director of U.S. Army Combat Medic Training and Resuscitation Programs at Fort Knox, Kentucky, Jay Reeves brings a wealth of experience and expertise to DCTC Allied Health programs. Reeves teaches EKG, First Responder, and Emergency Care for Technical Trades courses. He is also a CPR/First Aid instructor in DCTC Customized Training. He sees the new Health Care Technician program as an ideal route for students to enter the health care field with a strong, industry-savvy foundation.

Reeves with SimMan patient simulator

Reeves with SimMan patient simulator

“Because health care is becoming increasingly technical, with more and more new tests and diagnostics being developed, trained technicians are in high demand,” Reeves said. “Our medical professionals—doctors, nurses and technologists—are kept busy analyzing and synthesizing all that data. Our program offers a range of critical certifications, which means our graduates have true, tangible skills to put on their resumes.”

Reeves noted that the program’s certifications provide career flexibility while paving the way for advancement. For example, graduates with the phlebotomy certification could consider pursuing careers in hematology; EKG certification could lead to work as a physiologist, perfusionist, CT scan technologist, medical technologist or even a cardiologist.

“The Health Care Technician A.A.S. degree is a rainbow of health care opportunities,” Reeves said.

Biomedical Equipment Technology Connection
Burdick 8300

Burdick 8300

Jay Reeves is collaborating with Travis Ahlquist, the college’s Biomedical Equipment Technologyinstructor, to give students in both programs real-world experience. Ten BMET students have volunteered to serve as live EKG subjects for Health Care Technician students, allowing the HCT students to fulfill a certification requirement.

“My students get hands-on experience working with an actual live human patient, applying electrodes under clinical conditions,” Reeves said. “The BMET students get to see how the EKG machine is actually used. The machine we just received is the Cardiac Science Burdick 8300 Electrocardiograph, which is one of the best on the market.”

Student Perspectives

Chris Ketchum

Chris Ketchum

Chris Ketchum • Age: 29 • Cottage Grove, Minn.

“I’m working now as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) at a home health care center. My goal is to complete the Health Care Technician degree and then follow the bachelor degree pathway and become a registered nurse. This program has been extremely helpful.”

Outside interest: Capoeira, the Brazilian martial art that blends dance, acrobatics and music.

Kayla Frandrup

Kayla Frandrup

Kayla Frandrup • Age: 20 • Farmington, Minn.

“I am also majoring in Medical Administrative Specialist at DCTC. I’m planning on earning my phlebotomy and EKG certifications and will be graduating this summer. I plan to work in a hospital right away, but I’m looking at earning my bachelor’s degree in health care management.”

Outside interests: Student Ambassador and DCTC Campus Lions Club; Kayla also wishes to earn her private pilot’s license.

Jayme Gallagher

Jayme Gallagher

Jayme Gallagher • Age: 21 • Pine City, Minn.

“I like helping people and I like the idea that work in the health care field comes from the heart. I’m working full-time now, but earning this degree still fits into my schedule. I want to work in a hospital as an EKG technician for starters. My ultimate goal is to become a surgeon.”

Outside interest: Disc golf, aka Frisbee golf.

For more information about the Health Care Technician program at DCTC, contact:
Red Foreman | DOG: April 4, 1938 | Recovering from hip surgery

Red Foreman | DOG: April 4, 1938 | Recovering from hip surgery