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ECC, MCC host Health Occupations Open Houses

Job opportunities continue to be abundant in the fields of Practical Nursing (LPN), Associate Degree Nursing (RN), Medical Assisting, Dental Assisting or working in a Medical Office. Healthcare careers are among the most in-demand, both in Iowa and across the country, of any field. Because interest in these programs is so high, two Health Occupations Open Houses are being held later this month, at Marshalltown Community College and at Ellsworth Community College in Iowa Falls.

The Ellsworth Community College Open House will be Tuesday, Mar. 22, from 1 to 4 pm in McClure Hall on the main ECC campus in Iowa Falls. The Marshalltown Community College Open House will be Friday, Mar. 25, from 1 to 4 pm in MCC room 536 (enter from the southeast side of campus through Door 9, marked Buena Vista University).

The Open Houses will provide an opportunity for those interested in healthcare occupations to learn more about the educational training programs for these specific career areas, meet with the ECC and MCC faculty and some currently-enrolled students, and (if ready) begin the process of applying for admission. Refreshments will be served, gift bags will be given away, and participants who plan to enroll in Fall 2016 can register to win one of four $500 scholarships (two for ECC, two for MCC). Students who specifically want to attend either ECC or MCC but can’t get to the appropriate Open House event can attend the open house at the other campus and still get information and register for the scholarship giveaways.

Brenda Barfels of Iowa Falls, ECC Practical Nursing student, says she has not regretted her decision to make a career change and pursue a nursing education, even as a non-traditional (older adult) student. She operated an in-home daycare center for 15 years and then worked as a Certified Nursing Aide and Certified Medication Aide for 10 years before deciding to pursue her real passion.

“Being an RN has been my lifelong dream, and choosing ECC was the best decision for me!” says Barfels. “Knowing that our 2015 PN graduates had a 100% passage rate on their state NCLEX exams was a huge selling point for me. I love the close-knit relationships with the faculty and other students. And I’ve received so many generous scholarships that when it was all said and done I only owed $33 on this spring semester’s tuition bill!”

Barfels continues, “I was nervous about the decision to go back to college at first, but I really encourage anyone who’s thinking about a healthcare career to come to the campus and learn more. Now I want to be an inspiration to other non-traditional students, single parents, and (foremost) my grandchildren to show them that it’s never too late to pursue a dream and make it a reality, which is what I plan to demonstrate by walking across the graduation stage in May 2017.”

MCC Dental Assisting student Vicki Melgoza of Marshalltown liked the fact that the training program was fairly short-term. “I tried going to college while caring for three toddlers and it just didn’t work. I’ve bounced around some labor-intensive jobs and telemarketing jobs, but I realized I didn’t want to do that for the rest of my life. So I decided to enroll at MCC. It’s hard work, but I’m learning so much! I want to prove to myself and to anyone watching me that I CAN do this. If I had one piece of advice to give it would be don’t waste your time in a job you don’t enjoy. It only takes one year in a program like Dental Assisting, and your life completely changes for the better!”

Medical Assisting student Chastity Cameron concurs: “I wanted to go into healthcare, and Medical Assisting was a shorter training program than Nursing. And the flexible schedule appealed to me as a mother of two little boys. I feel like I have a career path now, not just a job. This is something my kids will be proud of. A lot of people think they can’t afford to go back to school, but I received Pell grants that have paid for almost all of my tuition. Between federal grants and scholarships, my entire year of classes was covered!”

Linda Hanson, Associate Dean of Health Occupations, says these students’ stories are inspirational, and also fairly typical among Ellsworth and Marshalltown students. “We’re two smaller colleges, so we know our students and their stories. We work hard to make sure all of our students are successful, and we have the pleasure of watching our students strive to do their very best in and out of the classroom. It’s what keeps all of us in the Health Occupations division so passionate about what we do.”

“We know there’s great interest in healthcare occupations right now, and rightfully so with all of the career opportunities available,” Hanson continues. “We encourage everyone to come to one of the open houses, learn more, meet the faculty, and get their questions answered. This really is the perfect time to get the ball rolling!”

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