Apr. 7—More than 80 prospective students toured MassBay Community College's fifth annual Health Sciences Open Labs on Saturday, experiencing a series of ongoing laboratory demonstrations and speaking with professionals in the field.
"There's nothing like actively seeing, feeling and doing this before college to know if you want to do this for your career," said Liz Cooper, assistant director of marketing and communication at the Wellesley-based college, which has its labs on Flagg Drive in Framingham. "This (education fair) is great because you can either visualize yourself doing something or not."
The event typically draws up to 100 prospective students, said Cooper, and offers demonstrations in surgical technology, central processing technology, human patient simulation, EMT/paramedicine, radiological technology and nursing skills.
Last June, the department was awarded a $494,438 Massachusetts Skills Capital Grant by the Baker-Polito administration to upgrade to a state-of-the-art Certified Simulation Center and Nursing Skills Lab, which MassBay President David Podell said will "help MassBay build a strong pipeline to fill critical workforce gaps in the commonwealth," according to a press release.
During the last few years, Keith Schnabel, lead instructor of the EMT program, said the college has seen more adult learners in its programs, which brings more helpful life experiences to the classroom.
Patrick Brennan, a Natick resident who earned a bachelor's degree at Westfield State University and has been working as an EMT for 10 years, was checking out the practical nursing and surgical technology programs.
"As much as I love that field (EMT), there's no room for growth beyond being a paramedic," said Brennan, who said he still earns just under $19 per hour with his experience. To progress, he is looking into becoming a licensed practical nurse before becoming a registered nurse, preferring MassBay's 10-month LPN program over a typical two-year program, because of his background and experience.
"Even for new LPNs that's a good thing, because it gets them right into the field, and the medical field is always hurting for more people," Brennan said.
"We see a lot of that," said Allison McCarthy, director of admissions and recruitment. "The health sciences is a growing field—there's been an increasing demand for skilled health science employees over the last few years."
She added that in many medical fields, students are encouraged to pursue one level of education, then get some work experience before taking the next step.
Even a handful of high school students take advantage of these programs; one of them being Piyusha Kundu, a high school senior from Sudbury who attends Worcester Polytechnic Institute's Massachusetts Academy of Math and Science. She takes evening EMT classes three days a week and is heading to Rice University this fall to study neuroscience.
"I hope that by becoming an EMT, I will gain essential problem-solving and patient interaction experience that will lead to a future career," said Kundu in a press release.
"She's really good, and she's really engaged," said Coordinator of Skills and Simulation Laboratories Lise Kinahan.
To learn more about the health sciences programs offered at MassBay Community College, visit massbay.edu/academics/health-sciences.