Panola College

Written by Teresa Cage Beasley.

Health care industry is booming

The Health Sciences Division of Panola College will host a “Second Career Open House” for community members who are interested in finding out more about options for health careers. The Open House will be held from 5 to 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 29, in the new Health and Natural Sciences Building. Advisors will be available to assist people with degree plans and to provide information about how to apply and register for classes, as well as financial aid options.

“Due to the downturn in the oil industry and other economic factors, many folks in our community have found themselves unemployed or under-employed and want to increase their career options,” said Dr. Barbara Cordell, Dean of Nursing and Health Sciences at Panola College. “People may not be aware of the options offered right here at the college so the open house will help spread the word.”

Students of any age who have not already earned a bachelor’s degree may apply for Pell Grants, but this funding is income-based. Displaced workers may find financial aid through the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) through the Texas Workforce Commission. This program is geared to helping workers gain the skills they need to get and keep good jobs. The Panola College Workforce & Continuing Education Department handles WIA and other workforce-related assistance.

 The health care industry is booming right now and shows no evidence of slowdown in providing great opportunities for high paying jobs.  

“With the aging population and people living longer lives, the need for health care providers will only increase,” Dr. Cordell said. “Many good jobs are available right here in East Texas if you have a caring heart and enjoy serving others.”

The health related programs offered at Panola College include nursing leading to the LVN and RN, Occupational Therapy Assisting, Emergency Medical Technician (Basic and Paramedic), Medical Laboratory Technician, Medical Assistant, and Health Information Technology. Other certificates offered through Continuing Education include Phlebotomy, EKG Technician, Dental Technician, Massage Therapy, and Certified Nurse Aide.

Nursing is probably the most well-known career in health care but changes in the profession have expanded the role of nurses in health care workplaces. A registered nurse (RN) is responsible for the care of the whole patient, whether in an outpatient or in-patient setting, and is assisted by Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVN). In the case of a hospitalized patient, the RN is responsible for all of the care around the clock, including providing medications and treatments, but most importantly assessing any change in the patient’s condition and making quick decisions about how to respond. Nurses provide education about health and illness, and serve as advocates for patients who may not be able to speak up for themselves – especially vulnerable patients, such as infants and infirm elderly.

OTA: Occupational Therapy Assisting is not as well-known as nursing but this profession uses purposeful activities to promote health and independence often in outpatient and rehabilitative settings. OTAs work under the supervision of a licensed occupational therapist (OT) to help individuals, families, groups and communities gain health and well-being. OTA students learn to analyze how the clients and their environment and occupations interrelate. Graduates are skilled at establishing therapeutic relationships and appreciate the importance of community service.

OTAs help patients in recovery by providing assistance in gaining independence. For example, patients who had enjoyed gardening before their illness or injury may work with flowers or plants in a therapeutic setting. Having excellent people skills is crucial to success in OTA because patients may sometimes be depressed and will benefit from a positive attitude.

EMT: Emergency Medical Technologies is an exciting field where each day offers new challenges as first responders or paramedics. Students in this program learn life-saving skills to work in fire departments, private EMS services and hospitals. The program at Panola College prepares graduates to take the national registry EMT test to work as a paramedic.

“We have an ambulance simulator that is fully outfitted with the same equipment you would find on a real unit,” said Ronnie Morton, Panola College EMT Chair. “Our simulator has four corner-mounted video cameras that allow me to stand in the classroom and watch my students work on the mannequin inside the unit.”

Health Information Technologies:

Heath Information Technology has made headlines this year because of the newly expanded medical coding system that has recently been implemented in the U.S. The Panola College HIT program was ahead of the game in teaching the complex system to students.

“Our students will be ready to go to work in health care settings once they complete their associate degree or certificate,” said Jo Ellen Russell, Program Chair and Professor of Health Information Technology.

Medical Laboratory Technician: Students in the MLT program learn the skills needed to operate high-tech laboratory equipment to analyze blood, body fluids and tissues. The two-year Associate of Applied Science Degree prepares students for the national qualifying examination to be certified as a MLT. Lectures in this program are online with required face-to-face laboratory sessions during the semester.

Medical Assisting: The two-semester coursework involved in the Medical Assisting Certificate prepares students for jobs in physicians’ offices, clinics and group practices. Students learn administrative skills and clinical procedures, making them valuable assets in offices where efficiency and cost-control are important.

Panola College’s Health Science programs provide not only classes, but also a progression of Laboratory activities, Simulation scenarios, and ultimately clinical experiences with live patients.

The simulation lab houses state-of-the-art mannequins that can talk, exhibit vital signs (heartbeat, blood pressure, etc.), and even bleed, vomit, and give birth. Nursing and EMT students are taught in this safe environment how to handle all types of scenarios and emergencies. The other professions have laboratory practice as well, from simulated home settings in the OTA lab, to an ambulance in the EMT lab, to microbiological and blood chemical analysis in the MLT program.

“We invite anyone interested in starting a second career in health care to join us from 5-6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 29 in the Health and Natural Sciences Building at Panola College,” Dr. Cordell said.

For more information call 903-694-4000.