'Ground-breaking opportunity': FMRSD, RVCC partner to offer health care program | News - freetxp

‘Ground-breaking opportunity’: FMRSD, RVCC partner to offer health care program | News

LANDON — A new high school vocational program will prepare region-wide students for employment opportunities in the administrative side of health care operations, starting next school year.

Fall Mountain Regional High School, in partnership with River Valley Community College, are launching “The Business of Healthcare,” an “innovative” one-year certification program in medical administrative assistance, to prepare students for employment in the business and office sector of health care, including as secretaries in hospitals or clinics, medical office specialists or patient coordinators.

The course is offered through River Valley Community College’s Running Start program, which enables high school students to take community college courses for credit during the student’s school day, with instruction typically provided on the high school campus.

In addition to learning technical knowledge relevant to health care services, the students will have one professional writing and communication skills and work with Microsoft Office programs.

Upon program completion the student will receive 12 community college credits, as well as a certificate as a medical administrative assistant, which would make them work-ready for employment opportunities upon graduation.

“We have never offered 12 community college credits in a two-credit high school course,” said Nate Bisson, head of school counseling at Fall Mountain Regional High School. “Typically a semester-long course coming from Running Start would only offer three college credits, so this is a very ground-breaking opportunity.”

Also unique is this course will be instructed remotely, which will expand the program’s eligibility to students outside the Fall Mountain Regional School District, such as Claremont and Newport.

“This [accessibility] is a big deal because a lot of our programs are ones that other school districts don’t have available in their region,” said Deb Connell, director of the Fall Mountain Career Center.

Several career-technical education centers in the region, including in Newport and Springfield, Vermont, offer health care programs, though those focus on careers around direct medical care, such as licensed nursing assistants (LNA) or emergency medical technicians (EMT).

Connell said the idea to focus on the administrative-side of the health care field came from Fall Mountain’s Business Department members.

Connell and Bisson said the new program took 18 months to develop with the help of Jerry Appell, coordinator of high school programs at River Valley Community College.

“We have been really working this year to strengthen the partnership between our Running Start program and the career-tech education centers and high schools throughout our area,” Appell told the Eagle Times. “We want students to realize that in Running Start they are working toward a [professional] certificate and earning community college credits, as opposed to a one-off program.”

Employment in health care is projected to increase by 16 percent over the next decade, adding approximately 2.6 million new jobs by 2030, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. The rate of job growth, which is increasing faster than all other occupational groups, is attributed to the county’s aging population and a greater demand for health care services.

The Business of Healthcare program is open to students in grade 10 or above. The program consists of three total courses, including a course in Microsoft Office Suite and an English course in professional writing and communication.

The third and central course, “The Business of Healthcare,” is a yearlong course where students learn and practice administrative responsibilities relevant to medical office work. The instructional content includes medical terminology, legal and ethical issues in health care and hands-on learning experiences.

Students will also be expected to participate in a practicum at a partnering hospital, such as Cheshire Medical Center in Keene or Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, Connell said.

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