Are you a rising high school senior unsure about what comes next? Or an adult tired of temping? Maybe you’re working full time and feel like you landed in the wrong field. Whatever your circumstances, if you’re thinking a career in health care might be a good fit, you have an option that is far more affordable and adaptable to the demands of real life than a four-plus year university commitment: technical college.
Technical college offers a more accessible pathway to full-time employment, because students earn not only college credit, but hands-on experience as they progress — and valuable credentials upon completion of their coursework, making them immediately hirable. In Florida, where a shortage of skilled health care professionals is keenly felt, graduates in particular demand include Pharmacist Technicians and Dental Assistants. These positions can exist in a variety of settings, and accredited instruction prepares students for all of them. Plus, completed coursework can serve as an end in itself — or be leveraged to further students’ education, speeding their progress to an advanced degree.
Pharmacist Technician Program
Boasting a strong reputation in the pharmacy industry — and accreditation by the American Society of Health System Pharmacists and the Council on Occupational Education — the 11-month Pharmacy Technician program at Pinellas Technical College equips students with the skills and competencies they need to work as a Pharmacy Technician in myriad settings (including hospitals, home infusion, mail order, even consulting for insurance companies). With graduation and placement rates at 100 percent, the program takes up weekday mornings for optimum flexibility, and includes 325 hours of clinical practicum experience in both inpatient and outpatient settings.
Jeannie Pappas, an instructor in the program, says that the demand for pharmacy technicians is intense, especially in Florida; so employment prospects are hot for graduates. (PTC assists graduates with job placement, as well.) And for career-minded high school seniors, dual enrollment can give them as much as a six-month head start in their post high school education. Think about that: they could be employed as a full-time Pharmacy Technician less than a year after they graduate high school — and with far less debt.
From an employer who has hired program grads: “The pharmacy technicians that are graduating from Pinellas Technical College are far and above those that are coming out of any other school or program. Their knowledge, IV skills and work ethic align them perfectly for the workplace. I have hired many technicians out of the program and will say they hit the ground running. This program has prepared them for any technician role they are seeking.”
Dental Assisting Program
According to Dawn Garcia, Dental Assisting Program Director, the range of students she sees is a lively blend of ages, backgrounds and circumstances, from just starting out after high school to older students seeking a midlife career reboot. The 13-month program is confined to weekday mornings, with no homework — leaving ample time for managing family responsibilities … or another job. Furthermore, students train with actual patients every Friday (for a total of 300 hours of hands-on training), assisting a licensed dentist in the five-chair onsite clinic. Add to that the program’s accreditation by the ADA Commission on Dental Accreditation — PLUS a 100 percent graduation and 94 percent placement rate — and you have a Dental Assisting program that is a go-to resource for area dentists seeking capable assistants they can count on from day one.
Enthuses one such dentist, “As a dentist who has seen many dental assistants coming from various schools in the area, there is by far one school that graduates the best, most hirable graduates, and that is PTC. When I hire a PTC graduate, I know they will have the skills needed to jump into my office. … Not only do I prefer to hire graduates from PTC, but I pay them more since they are more competent.”
For further information about the above programs, contact Jeannie Pappas at (727) 893-2500, ext. 2601 or email@example.com; or Dawn Garcia at (727) 893-2500, ext. 2573 or firstname.lastname@example.org.