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Olympic College Resumes Nursing Assistant Program

Kitsap Sun, September 24, 2012 – Olympic College’s nursing assistant program resumes Monday after being one of several programs the college stopped offering to students in response to slashed state funding last year.

Reinstating programs is just one of the ways the college is adapting to meet student needs despite decreased state funding, which dipped from 56 percent in 2008 to 42 percent in 2011, said Jennifer Hayes, the college’s communication director.

“The college brought back the nursing assistant program because the employability was good and demand was there,” she said.

The nursing assistant program, a 13-credit program that includes classes in such areas as client management skills and clinical observation, is geared toward students who want to get into the job market quickly, she said.

After completing the one-quarter program, students take a state examine to become a certified nursing assistant and can start applying for jobs that start at $9 to $12 per hour, according to a description of the program. Students also can use the program as a springboard to a nursing career.

At least 21 students have signed up for the program beginning Monday, the first day of fall quarter, said Mary Garguile, vice president of instruction.

Last year, the college announced the nursing assistant program, among other services and programs, would be cut to save the college a total of $3.2 million for the 2011-2013 biennial budget. Other programs that were shelved were the automotive technology, construction management, digital media arts and fire science, according to Hayes.

Garguile doesn’t expect those particular programs to resume in the next few years, though it will “depend on labor market needs, budgetary considerations, availability of appropriate facilities,” she said.

As the economy improves, the college will take a closer look at which programs it will bring back, she said, adding the decision will be mostly based on job market demand as well as community needs.

Employment trends in Kitsap County list the health care industry as one of its top five employment industries in the area, according to area director of WorkSource Kitsap Margaret Hess.

Other growing industries include government, retail trade, food services and technical services, she said.

“The economic recovery is slow … but we’re seeing jobs available across the board,” Hess said.

WorkSource, an agency that connects job seekers with employers, had more than 900 job listings as of Thursday, and a majority of those jobs were in the medical industry, Hess said.

In addition to the nursing assistant program, Olympic College staff plan to expand other student services, too, thanks to various state grants the college received. Those include:

— A $129,000 Washington STEM grant to be used to provide internships to science, technology, engineering and math students.

— College staff will work on a conceptual design for a 48,000-square-foot, three-story center, paid by a $3.6 million allocation in the state budget, that will replace the aging art and music buildings.

— Expanded services at the $1.1 million Educational Opportunity Center, which launched in February, that helps low-income, first-generation students prepare for college, among other services. The center was paid for by a Department of Education grant that will be distributed over a five-year period.

— A $2.2 million Department of Labor Air Washington grant to develop three Aerospace-related programs and expand manufacturing and electronics programs already available at the college. The grant will be distributed over a three-year period.

The Air Washington and Educational Opportunity Center grants were announced in October 2011.

Hayes said the college also is looking into partnerships with a university this year to possibly offer more bachelor degrees in fields such as leadership, computer information systems, accounting and communication.

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