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ive years after it began offering short-term, intensive courses that
can quickly lead to an entry-level career in a variety of health care
fields, the Academy of Health Professions (AHP) is going strong.
Created to meet industry demand for well-trained, entry-level workers,
AHP was established in 2010 with funding from the Commonwealth
Corp. Certificate programs include Certified Nursing Assistant, Medical
Receptionist, Phlebotomy, Medical Office Administration, Medical
Assisting, and Clinical Laboratory Assistant.
Designed to allow students to receive training and land jobs, then
work while they continue their education, AHP classes are offered
year-round in nine-week sessions, during the day, evening and
weekends. Organized in three levels, courses are "stackable"
meaning that as students complete AHP certificates, their
career options widen.
This formula of intense, content-driven courses offered at times
when working students can take them, has led to success
although in somewhat unexpected ways, according to
Denise Garrow-Pruitt, Assistant Dean of Health.
"Our retention is great our students are finding jobs," said Garrow-
Pruitt. "However, when the program first started, we thought about
it in terms of career entry into hospitals. We were expecting to serve
students who were right out of high school, as well as unemployed and
underemployed people.
"Five years later, AHP has become more of a second-career training
program," she said. "Working people are turning to us to start new
careers in health care."
As it became clear that career-changers were increasingly enrolling,
Garrow-Pruitt and AHP Director Angel Pepin began revamping the
curriculum. Responding to industry feedback, they have developed
new credit courses covering even more career skills, such as billing &
coding, insurance parameters, and writing for the medical environment.
Also, a series of free, noncredit professional development Career
Readiness Seminars has been created. "We were hearing from our
advisory board members that our students had fantastic job skills, but
they didn't always come in with great life skills," said Garrow-Pruitt.
"So, we hired Whitney LaRoche who has a background in medical-
practice management to come in and teach skills such as how to
provide good customer service, how to negotiate conflicts on the
job, and ways to improve one's bedside manner."
A career-changer himself, LaRoche has bachelor's and master's
degrees in business management, and a certificate of advanced
graduate studies in educational leadership. After starting his career
in financial services, he moved into health care administration. In
addition to teaching introductory AHP credit courses, LaRoche also
teaches the monthly noncredit Career Readiness Seminars on a
rotating basis throughout the year.
AHP Professor Whitney LaRoche's popular noncredit Career Readiness Seminars are
now open to all Health Careers students.
Program Profile
Continuing to Give Students
a Competitive Edge
Academy of Health Professions
"Five years later, AHP has
become more of a second-career
training program. Working
people are turning to us to start
new careers in health care."
Denise Garrow-Pruitt, Assistant Dean of Health