Butler Community College: Early College Health Sciences Academy

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South-Central Kansas high school students interested in careers in health-care professions have found a low-cost, high impact way to get a head start on their college education. The Butler Community College Early College Health Science Academy (ECHSA) offers an exceptional opportunity for students to integrate the last two years of high school with the first two years of college. The academy, which began in 2011, prepares students for healthcare careers and immerses them into the college experience. Students must meet specific admission requirements and class size is limited. The two-year program allows students to earn a significant portion of their associate degree while still in high school, which could allow them to enter a four-year college academically as a college junior upon high school graduation.

The ECHSA facility has been specifically renovated for the program. It includes a state-of-the-art science lab and technology enhanced classrooms equipped with smart boards. The Allied Health classroom houses two hospital bed stations and simulation mannequins that allow students to practice hands-on skills in their field of interest.

The ECHSA has benefited from the Kansas Career and Technical Education Initiative. Signed into law in July 2012, the initiative provides tuition-free college credit to high school students for a significant portion of the ECHSA program. In fact, thirty hours of the program?s fifty-six hours are provided to the students at no cost because of this new law! 

Strong partnerships with area professionals and institutions have been a significant part of the ECHSA?s success. The program is housed at USD #394 ? Rose Hill. The Rose Hill school district provides all the core class textbooks to students?no matter where their home school is located. The Delta Dental Kansas Foundation is also a strong partner to the ECHSA. Recently, the Foundation awarded $20,000 to provide scholarships, equipment, and supplies. KU Medical Center Area Health Education Center and the ECHSA have built a strong relationship of collaboration. As a result, two annual events, Camp Med and Journeys/Destinations, have been created to provide opportunities for students to interact with health care professionals and gain hands-on experiences in their career interest areas. In addition, a strong cadre of area health professionals supports the ECHSA by providing job shadowing opportunities, mentoring students in their interest area, and serving on the advisory board.

The program has proven to be very successful. Since its inception in 2011, the number of ECHSA students has grown sixty-four percent. ECHSA students have been very successful academically; 100% of the students have passed the CNA licensing exam, and a significant number of the students are already employed in health-related positions, where they are gaining experience while benefitting financially. ECHSA students are able to move into health/science careers earlier and be better prepared for success than traditional high school students.

Early college expansion plans are already underway at Butler Community College. Three additional early college programs are in the development stage and projected to start in fall 2013.

For additional information about the Early College Health Sciences Academy, contact Dr. Marcy Aycock, ECHSA Director, at 316-776-9429.

Click here to visit the ECHSA website.

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