DELPHOS — Students at eight area high schools have a new option that could help them get started in the medical field.
Rhodes State College announced Friday it received a $75,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Higher Education to launch the Healthcare Occupations Pathway Experience, a new program that helps students work toward a Patient Care Technician certificate as well as 12 credit hours toward high school graduation requirements. Classes are taught online, with in-person laboratory hours completed at the Career Connections Center at Delphos Jefferson High School. Additionally, students will job shadow with Mercy Health-St. Rita’s Medical Center and Lima Memorial Health System.
“It’s a great way to get started in health care,” said Cheryl Kuck, assistant professor and coordinator of the medical assisting program at Rhodes State College. “When they’re working in these hospitals, they’ll be alongside other healthcare professionals. This can be a stepping stone.”
The program will be available to juniors and seniors at Delphos Jefferson, Delphos St. John’s, Elida, Fort Jennings, Lincolnview, Miller City, Ottoville and Spencerville high schools. It includes two 10-week segments, with 24 spots available per year.
Patient care technicians are an in-demand position that provides bedside care, performs safety checks, completes documentation about vital signs and monitors blood pressure, heart rates and pulse. While it’s an entry-level position, it often pays $13 to $14 an hour for those starting.
”We’re trying to identify these kids early and explore what interests them,” said Chad Brinkman, principal at Delphos Jefferson High School. “Now we have colleges coming in, and local hospitals in this situation, helping them identify early what it takes to get these in-demand jobs.”
The grant is for two years, but the program should be built to continue after that, said Rhea Busick, assistant professor and chair of biological sciences at Rhodes State College. Much of the investment was in building the online classes, including a virtual reality simulator and a human cadaver simulation experience. The first classes begin this spring, with another group starting in the fall. Hands-on labs in Delphos will mimic real-world situations.
“This is a very innovative, technology-loaded facility for these students,” Busick said. “The simulated hospital room will have as much of the real-world experience as we can. They’ll learn real patient care skills.”
Students interested in the program must have a 2.5 grade point average, an ACT science score of 20, a written essay on why they want a job in healthcare and a letter of recommendation from a high school science teacher. Students at the eight participating schools should check with their guidance counselor for more information.