ECC rolls out new health programs – Observer
If you are interested in a career in healthcare, Elgin Community College recently launched two new programs that will begin in the fall semester of 2022.
The first program is an ophthalmic technician program; an ophthalmology technician helping patients prepare to see an ophthalmologist, ophthalmologist.
The program was launched when the Wheaton Eye Clinic contacted ECC due to a shortage of local staff.
“Around the world, ophthalmology practices have faced challenges for several years with the recruitment of personnel trained in this highly specialized field. There are not enough staff to meet the increasing demands of ophthalmology practices,” said Kati Read, ECC Consultant for the Ophthalmology Technician Program.
According to Read, ECC was attentive and responsive throughout the communication process with Wheaton Eye Clinic as the new program was considered for addition.
This two-year program will prepare students by teaching them the technical skills needed in the field.
“Students will develop a very strong foundation in all the skills we use in daily practice, from how to check a patient’s vision and ask them about their condition, to performing really specialized tests” , said Shelby Stanley, director of the ophthalmic technician program.
In addition to learning technical skills, students will also gain experience working in eye clinics.
The program is designed to prepare students to take the Certified Ophthalmic Technician exam administered by the Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology. This certificate is internationally recognized.
According to Read, after completing the program and receiving their certification, students will be equipped to enter a job market full of opportunities for them.
“It really is such a rewarding area that provides a high level of impact for those who need these services,” Read said. “Students have the opportunity to find purpose in this meaningful work. We literally manage to help people see! Sight is an incredibly complex and delicate sense. Vision is extremely important for everyone’s quality of life and independence.
Stanley says people who are compassionate and interested in finding the most effective way to help solve a patient’s problem should consider a career as an eye technician.
“Come and learn more about the eyes. It’s not even something I thought I would find enjoyable and it became my passion,” Stanley said. “I really think it’s a career that ends up being so much more rewarding than you even realize.”
The second new program is the medical assistance program. A medical assistant is a paramedical professional who assists a doctor in their daily tasks.
Greater Family Health contacted ECC due to the shortage of medical assistants. They expressed the need for more local training programs.
Kelli Marlin, Physician Assistant Program Manager, explains that technological advancement within the medical community has increased the need for Physician Assistants as more people are needed to utilize new technology.
This three-semester, 12-month program will teach students the technical skills used in clinics as well as the soft skills needed to be an effective member of a team. During the final semester, students will complete a 160-hour externship in the field to gain experience in a professional environment.
Marlin uses her experiences as a medical assistant to develop a program that properly prepares students for the workplace.
“You can teach someone how to give a two-year-old a flu shot, but in a classroom it will go one way and in a clinic it will go another,” Marlin said.
Marlin explains that the program is built around the expectations of medical assistance programs to be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs.
Students will receive a professional certificate at the end of the program. They will also be prepared to take a certification exam to be a registered physician assistant in the state of Illinois. This certification is not a requirement in Illinois, but it gives students a competitive edge in the field. The test can be taken on campus.
“It’s a very exciting program. Students will learn a lot in a short time. It’s a great opportunity to start in August of a year and hopefully be placed in a job the following August,” Marlin said.
Marlin says people who are interested in a career in healthcare but don’t have the time or commitment to devote to a demanding program should check out the medical assisting program. She says people who maintain an empathetic mindset are likely to succeed in the program.
“Working with patients is very rewarding. I think if you have the right attitude of compassion and you’re a caregiver, you get that daily gratification from patients thanking you,” Marlin said.