After being on the frontline for over 18 months, health care workers are fatigued, and some are leaving the bedside. As a result, there is a shortage of nursing and ancillary staff like certified nursing assistant (CNA), geriatric nursing assistant (GNA), clinical medical assistant (CMA), and phlebotomists. In addition, economic data also indicated need for information technology (IT), biological technology, health sciences, and transportation professionals. Montgomery College is playing an active role in helping the community recover from these and other pandemic job losses.
“We have seen an increased demand for these health care positions, and nurse refresher courses, from our hospitals and medical facilities in the community,” said Melissa Sprague, Montgomery College health sciences chair. Interest from students has increased as well. Sprague believes people who lost jobs during the pandemic are seeking employment security in the health care field.
Helping the county recover from the pandemic involves offering credit and noncredit programs in formats that make in-demand programs accessible and affordable to students and county residents, according to Dr. Sanjay Rai, Montgomery College senior vice president of academic affairs. “This is critical for the economy of individuals and our community,” he said. “We have world-class training and world-class faculty teaching these programs. We have expanded and increased all types of programs we offer.”
Rai points to short-term programs offered at MC that range from three to six months in length and to doing targeted increases in courses offered, based on data in the job market. By partnering with companies like Cisco and Apple, the College is able to provide specialized training.
Helping the county recover from the pandemic involves offering credit and noncredit programs in formats that make in-demand programs accessible and affordable to students and county residents.
Prior to COVID-19, MC was planning to add additional lecture and lab space for the CNA and CMA programs at the Mannakee Building on the Rockville Campus. The construction is now complete. Additionally, MC added a CNA lab in the Health Sciences Building at the Takoma Park/Silver Spring Campus. The College is in early stages of planning a site in the East County region, where more health science labs for CNA and CMA will be added.
Sprague sees program success in terms of its employment outcomes: “Many of our programs are 8 to 12 weeks in length. Each program consists of classroom/remote lectures, and hands-on labs and clinical experiences in hospitals, nursing homes, and medical offices. Our students are frequently offered jobs by the site of their clinical experience.”
Students who complete the CMA program are eligible to take the national exam, which allows them to become certified clinical medical assistants, certified by the National Healthcareer Association. Successful graduates of the phlebotomy program are certified by the National Phlebotomy Association. Montgomery College CNAs and GNAs graduates are certified by the Maryland Board of Nursing.