Aging population and increasing call for trained personnel drive demand
Dakota County Technical College is helping meet the tremendous demand for qualified health care workers through the Health Care Technician program, which provides an efficient and practical pathway into a $2.8 trillion industry that ranks as the fastest-growing economic sector in the country, employing more than 18 million workers. The HCT program offers general education courses that transfer to a four-year college or university as well as professional/technical courses designed to teach the skills required to enter the health care workforce or advance a health care career. The program also prepares students wishing to pursue a future bachelor’s degree in health care.
Elective certifications are a key advantage offered by the Health Care Technician program. Students can graduate with three certificates and have the opportunity to test for the Patient Care Technician/Assistant Certification (CPCT/A) administered by the National Healthcareer Association. Certificates are offered in the following areas:
- Electrocardiography (EKG) Technician
- This concentration prepares you to perform diagnostic electrocardiograms at a hospital or other medical facility.
- Phlebotomy Technician
- This concentration prepares you to be a specialist in obtaining blood samples at a clinic, hospital, laboratory or other medical facility.
- Nursing Assistant
- This concentration prepares you to assist dependent clients, home care recipients, and patients with personal care needs.
- Trained Medication Aide (TMA)
- This concentration prepares you to dispense patient medications under the supervision of a registered nurse.
- EMT Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) *
- This concentration prepares you to provide lifesaving emergency care in a variety of settings.
- CPCT/ACPCT/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.
* Offered through Inver Hills Community College
“The associate degree is emerging as a prime ticket into the healthcare workforce. Of the 20 fastest growing healthcare occupations that require a college education, 10 are at the associate level, according to data supplied by Economic Modeling Specialists International (EMSI).
“These occupations are projected to account for 806,000 new jobs in the U.S. by 2023. At an average of 28 percent, the growth rate for these technical occupations vastly outpaces projections for the entire U.S. jobs market, which stands to grow 11 percent over the next 10 years.” — Healthcare Finance News
Bachelor’s 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.
From the U.S. DOL Bureau of Labor Statistics
Pay: The median annual wage for registered nurses was $65,470 in May 2012. The top 10 percent earned more than $94,720.
Job Outlook: Employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 19 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations. Growth will occur for a number of reasons, including an increased emphasis on preventative care; growing rates of chronic conditions, such as diabetes and obesity; and demand for healthcare services from the baby boomer population, as they live longer and more active lives.
Jay Reeves, an HCT instructor, spoke about the advantages of enrolling in the program. “The Health Care Technician program offers graduates a broad range of capabilities applicable to a wide spectrum of health care environments,” Reeves said. “Our graduates are ready for jobs in hospitals, physician offices, long-term care facilities and outpatient clinics to name a few. Workers in all sectors of the economy are doing more jobs with fewer resources. An employee with multiple professional competencies represents a value added in terms of human resources. A prospective employee with more than one area of preparation will be a very attractive applicant.”
Student perspectivesJulie Sonen
Hometown: Monroe, Wash.
Residence now: Burnsville, Minn.
Program area: Health Care Technician
When she graduated from high school in Kaimukī, a residential area in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1994, Julie Sonen was not sure what career path she wished to follow. She had lived in both Hawaii and Washington state, including six months with her grandmother in Seattle, which meant she hadn’t established roots in either location.
“Because I moved around a lot, I found it hard to know what I really wanted to do with my life,” Julie said. She got married in 1998 to an E4 in the U.S. Army and resided at Schofield Barracks, the storied base on Oahu that Japanese warplanes strafed during the attack on Pearl Harbor and that also served as the principal setting for the novel, From Here to Eternity. A year later, she and her husband, Mike, moved to Minnesota to be closer to Mike’s family and start a family of their own.
Before they bought a house and settled in Burnsville, Julie and Mike got see other parts of the state, living in Plymouth, Crystal, and Otsego. Julie continued searching for a career path that made sense. She tried criminal justice at an area college, but was six-months pregnant with her second child, Sean, and the program wasn’t good fit.
“My son needed his mom,” remembered Julie, who also had a 4-year-old daughter at the time.
She found her passion in the health care field when her grandmother (not the one she lived with in Seattle) passed away. “She lived with my parents in Washington for a couple years before she died,” Julie said. “I wanted to be with her. Going into health care is a way to somehow make up for not being able to take care of her.”
Julie pursued Practical Nursing at DCTC before enrolling in the Health Care Technician program fall semester 2013. “My kids were older and I needed to find my place in the world,” she said. “I already have my Certified EKG Technician certificate. I will earn phlebotomy certification this summer and my CNA [Certified Nursing Assistant] next fall.”
Julie will graduate with her A.A.S. degree spring 2015 and plans to start working right away. She would like to use all her certifications in a health care occupation that assists the elderly. As an 8-year-old, she had helped her mom in the craft center of a nursing home, an experience that included adopting a grandfather. “I remember making connections—and that’s what I really want to do in health care,” she said. “I want to make personal connections so that I enrich the lives of the people I care for.”
Today, Julie’s husband, Mike, works as a security administrator. Kaylin is 14 and Sean is 10. The family has two pugs, Toby and Zoey. When she’s not taking care of her family fdor studying, Julie enjoys watching a number of TV shows, including The Walking Dead, True Blood, How I Met Your Mother and The Voice. She also enjoys decorating wedding cakes.Albert Azinwi Acha
Albert Azinwi Acha
Hometown: Douala, Cameroon
Residence now: Brooklyn Park, Minn.
Program area: Health Care Technician
Albert “Al” Azinwi Acha is originally from Douala, a prosperous port city of 2.5 million in west-central Cameroon, a nation often praised as an “Africa in Miniature” due to its impressive cultural diversity and varied ecospheres, including deserts, mountain ranges, tropical rainforests and savanna lands. After graduating from Mother Teresa, a boarding college and high school in Douala, Al went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from the University Douala. He worked for a time as a lab technician for a cement company in Douala before deciding to immigrate to the U.S. in 2008 with the aim to advance his education and career.
“I came to the United States to do something different,” Al said. “Job opportunities are not evenly distributed in Cameroon. I like the health care field because I want to work where I can help people.”
Al experienced considerable culture shock when he arrived in Minnesota, but he adapted quickly, taking a number of general education courses at Minneapolis Community and Technical College. He began the Health Care Technician program at DCTC to earn multiple certifications, especially the trained medication aide (TMA) and electrocardiography (EKG) technician, and to gain access to the program’s registered nursing track.
“My plan is to transfer into the RN program at Metropolitan State University after I graduate from DCTC this spring,” Al said. “My goal is to make a career of registered nursing, working in multiple roles in a hospital setting or nursing home.”
Al became a U.S. citizen in 2013 and has already been working in a CNA capacity. He is fluent in three languages, English, French and Bafut, the latter the dialect of his birth tribe in Cameroon. He has been back to Cameroon twice since arriving in the U.S. and is very excited that his wife, Vivian, and his 2-year-old daughter, Alvian (a combination of “Al” and “Vivian”) are moving to Minnesota in July 2014.
Soccer is by far the number one sport in Cameroon—and Al is a huge soccer fan. He plays midfielder for a club in the MINCAM Soccer League, which is composed of clubs from different Cameroonian tribes. He is definitely looking forward to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil and plans on watching the Cameroon National Football Team, Les Lions Indomptables, compete on his big-screen TV.
For more information about the Health Care Technician program at DCTC, contact:
- Jay Reeves
Allied Health Instructor