Health program receives $1.3 million

Home Archived News Health program receives $1.3 million

Erika Wilhite

Published: November 9, 2005

After years of struggling, the PJC Health Department finally has the funding necessary to offer a full load of nursing and paramedic courses.

PJC has received a $1.3 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment & Training Administration. It is one of many grants being awarded to community colleges and technical schools nationwide by the Community Based Job Training program.

The Program’s grants are promoting the national workforce by increasing the capabilities of community colleges, both in terms of quantity and quality of courses offered.

“The grant will greatly enhance the health department,” said Janice Single, the college’s director of nursing. “And it will increase enrollment by approximately 100 students.”

PJC’s health care program is housed at Warrington Campus, in the Charles A. Atwell Health Sciences Building. The facility boasts state-of-the-art learning labs and a replica of a fully functioning hospital complete with an emergency room, intensive care unit, surgical suite, and labor and delivery suite.

Marcia Williams, the provost at Warrington, said that the project “will focus on serving new populations, [as well as] significantly increasing the number of program graduates by increasing student retention.”

Williams said the grant also will benefit local hospitals who hire PJC health program graduates – Baptist Health Care, West Florida Hospital, Santa Rosa Medical Center, and Sacred Heart Health System. These employers will be working with PJC to maximize the project’s effectiveness.

Nursing student Samantha Taylor said this is fantastic news. Taylor is tired of fighting just to enroll in the program’s required courses.

“Enrolling was harder than passing the classes,” she said. “It was ridiculous.  I was on a waiting list along with who knows how many other people.”

In addition to offering more sections during the day, the program hopes to draw more students by offering night, weekend and even online courses. Williams said that options such as a nursing evening and weekend track and a certificate in operating nurse track will soon be available.

Program quality, already high, also is expected to receive a boost, with improved and expanded curriculum design.

The grant will fund the purchase of up-to-date equipment, professional development courses for existing faculty, and the hiring of other qualified instructors. The faculty will use more simulations for a more hands-on approach to learning, in the hope that students now will earn more satisfying degrees with greater applicability to their future careers.

Although she admits that she has had doubts about the longevity of the program, Taylor said this grant and the changes it will make within the health care program now make her hopeful about the program’s continued success.