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As Winter Quarter began in January, Seattle Central College opened the doors to a new Health Education Center at Pacific Tower that is designed to foster collaborative learning to educate the next generation of healthcare professionals.
“Launching a campus that is on the cutting-edge of healthcare education changes how we prepare our students for the industry,” said Interim President Sheila Edwards Lange, Ph.D. “This center will provide new opportunities for our students, but also for the community, who will benefit from the services our students and graduates will provide.”
On the cutting-edge
Meanwhile, construction continues on the remaining floors that will house the Dental Hygiene and Dental Assistant programs, administrative offices, computer labs and a library. Construction on these floorsis scheduled to finish by early spring, with classesto begin Fall Quarter 2016.
Once completed, the new center will bolster the college’s existing health education programs with the latest equipment, modern labs, additional classrooms, collaborative study spaces and more.
Collaborative training experience
A unique feature of the new space is the potential for collaboration with other organizations. For example, Neighborcare Health will co-locate a community dental clinic at the center. This partnership, the first of its kind in the nation, will provide hands-on training opportunities to students while increasing access to affordable healthcare for low-income patients in the community.
“By locating a Neighborcare dental clinic with the college’s dental training programs, we are helping to pioneer a new model of health education. As a result, each student will be much better prepared for the rigors of a healthcare workplace,” Sarah Vander Beek, Chief Dental Officer at Neighborcare Health, said.
The Pacific Tower is now also home to a variety of health-focused non-profit organizations under one roof, such as Cross Cultural Health Care, which provides medical interpreter training, and Valley Cities, a non-profit mental health provider.
The center has spurred the development of new programs that better address the needs of the evolving healthcare industry. Last year, the college began offering a bachelor’s degree in Allied Health in both Dental Hygiene and in Respiratory Care. This winter, it launched two new bachelor’s degree tracks in Community Health and Education and in Healthcare Services Management. These degree options create opportunities for healthcare workers to enhance their professional skills and advance in their careers.
Accessible and affordable
With a commitment to ensuring quality education for all, Seattle Central has also made healthcare education accessible and affordable. Courses are designed with working professionals in mind. Certain programs, such as Central Supply Processing and Certified Nursing Assistant, give those with no experience in healthcare the opportunity to earn a certificate in just a few quarters.
“Seattle Central is effective in making its training programs accessible to all, including Asian/Pacific Islanders and other immigrants and refugees,” Teresita Batayola, a Seattle Colleges Trustee and CEO of International Community Health Services says.
Current healthcare professionals can build on their expertise and education by working toward associate and bachelor’s degrees. Programs include day, evening and online classes that give those with busy family and work commitments the opportunity to earn more advanced healthcare credentials at their own pace.