Job openings in the healthcare sector are plentiful these days — not just in nursing, but also for medical-related careers that might seem off the beaten path.
There is a steady need for phlebotomists, nurse aides, pharmacy techs and clinical medical assistants, and Tyler Junior College is training highly skilled workers who can fill those positions immediately.
Registration is open now for these programs that begin in February at TJC West.
“We offer quick-turnaround training for these high-demand fields,” said Brent Wallace, dean of the TJC School of Continuing Studies. “Our courses are taught by local industry professionals who are dedicated to providing students with the tools they need to go straight into the workforce.”
With such a demand for employees, job seekers seem to be in the driver’s seat when it comes to where they want to work and how much they can earn.
“We’re seeing employers who are offering higher pay — and sometimes signing bonuses — as well as more flexibility for workers to set their own hours,” he said.
TJC pharmacy tech instructor Kim Felt couldn’t agree more.
“I tell my students that, right now, the world is wide open for them, and they have an opportunity to work wherever they want because people are desperate,” she said. “I recently saw a sign at a Walmart near Dallas that said they were offering a $1,000 signing bonus for pharmacy techs. I’ve never seen that in my almost 30 years of doing this.”
Pharmacy techs work under the supervision of a registered pharmacist in hospitals, home infusion pharmacies, community pharmacies and other healthcare settings. The average annual wage is $35,820.
“This is a highly, highly responsible job. Maybe 35 percent of the prescriptions that are filled are for the elderly,” she said. “It’s a very sobering thing when students look around and realize how responsible a job it is to fill medicines for people.”
Pharmacy techs can also transition into other healthcare fields.
“Some graduates branch out and go into nursing or radiology and even pharmacy school,” she said. “I have several students who went into nursing, and they all said that having this experience made a big difference to them.”
Certified Nurse Aide
The TJC Certified Nurse Aide Program prepares students to be entry-level nursing assistants who provide basic care to residents of long-term care facilities.
Topics include residents’ rights, communication, safety, observation, reporting and assisting residents in maintaining basic comfort and safety. Emphasis is on effective interaction with members of the healthcare team. Graduates will be eligible to sit for the Texas Registry examination. The average annual salary is $25,327.
“There is such a need for nurse aides right now,” Instructor Connie Davis said. “The program is not that long; it’s a four-week program and only three days a week, six and a half hours a day. In my last two classes, my students have finished the class one day and gone into a job the next. When they finish the course, they’re hired.”
The CNA certification looks good on a resume, she added.
“Employers like to see that the people they hire have that certification or a license in something because it means they follow through and finish what they start,” she said. “Also, the more specialized certifications you have, the better your opportunities. For example, the Alzheimer’s Alliance will give our students an opportunity to get a one-day training and certification in how to help those patients.”
She continued, “There are so many spinoffs for what nurse aides do today. It’s not just doing bedside cleaning, dressing and bathing. They also work in surgery, they restock supplies, they work in the labs and collect lab samples, transport patients and work in doctor’s offices. There’s a lot of variety in this position.”
Clinical Medical Assistant
The TJC Clinical Medical Assisting program prepares students to be professionals in multiple healthcare settings.
Medical assistants with a clinical background perform various tasks including assisting with the administration of medications and with minor procedures, performing an electrocardiogram (EKG), obtaining laboratory specimens for testing, educating patients and other related tasks.
“A lot of this class is an introduction to healthcare,” TJC instructor Kelly Vega said. “I provide them with a strong knowledge base to build on, so that as they move into jobs in a hospital or physician’s office, they can continue to grow and learn by experience.”
She continued, “This allows them to get their feet wet to go further into the healthcare profession. A lot of the students now have goals of becoming a nurse and see this as the first step to trying the field on for size before they go further on the journey.”
Job opportunities are prevalent with physician’s offices, clinics, chiropractor’s offices, hospitals and outpatient facilities. The average annual salary is $31,514.
“The current health needs change all the time,” Vega said, “so I try to educate myself on what the local healthcare community needs and expects from medical assistants. I ask around at different offices to find out what they need so that we will know what our students need to know to enter the job market.”
The phlebotomist is a vital member of the clinical laboratory team, and their main function is to obtain a patient’s blood specimens by venipuncture and micro collection for testing purposes.
“This is an important healthcare job that not many people talk about,” TJC instructor Nadia Hall said. “Without someone to draw the bloodwork and make sure it’s done correctly, you can’t properly diagnose a patient or even discharge them from the hospital.”
Phlebotomists are employed throughout the healthcare system including in hospitals, medical practices, public health facilities, insurance carriers and other healthcare settings. Their average annual wage is $29,490.
The demand for phlebotomy technicians has increased substantially, and healthcare industry experts predict a 15-percent increase in phlebotomy jobs by 2030.
“In addition to teaching the principles of phlebotomy, we also help them work on their résumés,” Hall said. “We make sure they are updated so that their skills are accurate when they apply for jobs.”
Program graduate Quisha Monmouth said, “I took my exam Oct. 3, 2020, got hired by Christus Trinity Mother Frances clinics on Nov. 14, and started working on Dec. 7. I’ve been here for a year now, and I actually just went back and enrolled in the TJC clinical medical assistant program.”
Monmouth continued, “The program itself is a blessing, but you have to be willing to put in the hours that you have to do in the lab and attend the support groups. There was one point where I was ready to quit because I had a lot going on in my personal life, but the support group and the instructors were so helpful and understanding. They kept me going.”
Hall said, “It is such a pleasure to be able to teach these students and watch them grow and succeed in their profession and in life.”
For more information, or to register, go to TJC.edu/ContinuingStudies.