In an attempt to address the region’s growing need for health care professionals, Piedmont Technical College will begin offering dual enrollment courses at the Russell Technology Center that will prepare students for the competitive entry programs within its health care division.

Students who complete the Health Care Quick Start program will be guaranteed admission into the college’s competitive entry programs. Piedmont Tech is, generally, an open-enrollment institution, meaning all applicants are accepted. Select programs, however, admit a limited number of students, all of whom must complete certain prerequisite courses in order to be considered.

“This is actually something that we have been trying to complete for the past two or three years, to get an entire certificate or general ed courses prior to the healthcare program in the high school,” Tara Harris, the dean of Piedmont Tech’s School of Health Care, said. “We’ve noticed that the earlier students are involved in career preparation choices and having those opportunities to learn about different health care jobs, the better graduates they are and the better they are in the workforce.”

Health Care Quick Start is a two-year program. The first year would be dedicated to general education courses. The second would allow students to branch off into their chosen career paths. The program will debut in the fall of 2019.

“There’s a strategic benefit to the college as well as to the students,” said Joshua Black, vice president for student affairs and communications at Piedmont Tech. “We’re working closely with health care providers in the region just to supplement and strengthen the workforce pipeline ... this is one more way that we’re trying to address that in the county.”

In the spring of 2020, students at the technology center will also be able to pursue an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certificate.

EMS has been asking for this, Black said. “They need more trained, qualified workers. That’s how this part of the agreement has come about.”

Contact staff writer Aleks Gilbert at 864-943-5644.