March 2008, Volume 9, Number 3
Member Spotlight: Kennebec Valley Community College
Kennebec Valley Community College
Partnership Approach to New Health Care Programs
Kennebec Valley Community College (KVCC) in Fairfield, Maine, is constantly seeking new ways to serve the needs of area employers by providing the education and training their workers need in spite of scarce resources. KVCC found a way in the area of medical imaging technology by introducing a Radiologic Technology Program in the fall of 2004 with the help of area hospitals and state and federal workforce training grants.
Recognizing the need to help the college amass the resources necessary to begin a complex and expensive program, KVCC leaders held a series of meetings with area employers, workforce development agencies, and staff from Senator Susan Collins’ office. The results led to six medical facilities providing support for qualified employees to attend the program. These healthcare partners provided lab and clinical resources in addition to facilities to support the program. Their contributions, along with federal funds secured with assistance from Senator Susan Collins, gave the college the capacity to deliver the program.
The 75-credit associate in science degree program in radiologic technology has been a resounding success. The program was accredited in 2005 and produced the first graduating class in May 2006. All graduates in that class passed the national credential examination and achieved 100 percent job placement, with an average starting salary of $36,000 per year.
KVCC, six hospital partners, and two career centers were cited as partners in a National Incubator Model Award given to the Central/Western Local Workforce Investment Board for this project, which represents a classic example of the success that can be realized when the public and private sectors come together.
This model was then replicated to implement a much needed advanced imaging project for the state. With the addition of new hospital partners, federal funding was secured from a Department of Labor community-based job training grant in fall 2005. In spring 2007, Kennebec Valley Community College became home to the first and only advanced certificate program in diagnostic medical sonography, or ultrasound, in Maine. Ultrasound is a relatively inexpensive and noninvasive imaging method preferred by many physicians. The new program at KVCC is also the only one in the state’s community college system that requires an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in a health-related field for entrance. Ten students are selected each fall for the program. The course runs for 16 months including the summer semester.
Dr. Ruben Perez, the instructor for the new program, said it was much needed due to a general shortage of sonographers in Maine and an average age of 45 among existing professionals in the field. With costs for bringing in sonographers from other states as temporary or contract workers both expensive and rising, demand for a Maine-based program was high.
This 54-credit advanced certificate program in sonography provides specialized training in the clinical and didactic diagnostic medical ultrasound experience. The majority portion of the experience is hands-on at appropriate clinical sites under the supervision of qualified and registered ultrasound staff called preceptors. The program delivers a competency-based dedicated ultrasound curriculum with novice-level clinical experience at the start of the program followed by increasing clinical responsibility and accountability over time.
Planned additions to the KVCC medical imaging programs include mammography and computerized tomography (CT) scanning. Both are tentatively scheduled for the fall of 2008 and are likely to be delivered at least partially by distance learning methods including online classes. These courses will be designed for radiologic technologists who want to gain skills in new specialties. They are part of the college’s continuing effort to establish a local career training ladder for medical imaging specialists.
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