by Terry Rogers
Delaware Technical and Community College hopes to address the shortage of trained healthcare professionals by offering allied health programs in various specialties. Vice President for Academic Affairs, Justina Sapna, explained that because many of these programs require internships when the students finish, they are highly employable.
“Right now we have over 700 students enrolled in our 16 healthcare programs,” Sapna said. “We also have an Allied Health program with more than 600 enrollees and our Associate in Nursing has more than 700 students. About three years ago, we started an RN to BSN program and enrollment is up to more than 350. Last year, we graduated 52 students, more than in the previous two years.”
Sapna explained that healthcare has always been a fairly large industry in Sussex County but that it was now starting to grow in Kent County. The growth in healthcare industries has led to a need for more trained professionals to fill vacancies at various hospitals and medical practices. In addition to the programs offered at Del Tech, Sapna stated that the Terry Campus will soon have an Excellence of Healthcare Center, a building that has been renovated for a state-of-the-art medical training facility.
“Delaware Tech has been very active in the pathways program for high school students so they can gain experience in their field,” Sapna said. “Hundreds of students are now involved in pathways at Del-Tech and we have an immersive pathway in our patient care program. This year, we have 90 students participating across the state. Not only is this a great program for our youngest students, but it is also beneficial for those who are looking for a second career or may need additional training due to job loss related to COVID.”
Right now, the biggest challenge the college faces is due to COVID-19 and the need to keep people safe while also providing critical education.
“We are in a pandemic, so our traditional way of teaching is not the way we normally teach them,” Sapna said. “We have to use hybrid models. Most instruction is happening in a virtual environment which is very challenging for many reasons. We do have to have students on campus for some components for this training. We have only limited space in some of the labs, so the scheduling and making sure we can social distance to protect students and instructors. A lot of managing of the times.” Sagna also explained that many of the programs were created quickly which presented its own challenges to getting them up and running.
The programs may have grown in popularity because of the pandemic, Sapna explained. She believes people may now have more of an awareness of healthcare needs than they did before. Because healthcare offers secure employment, it attracts people of all ages. Some programs are offered with a fall and spring start date while others have rolling start dates.
Anyone interested in healthcare options at Del Tech can find more information on their website.