Among all the bad news in the latest employment report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics–which showed that the nation shed 159,000 jobs in September–there was at least one bright spot: the health-care sector continued to show job growth. Indeed, over the past year, an average of 30,000 health-care jobs were created each month.
That’s one of the key reasons that Chandler-Gilbert Community College (CGCC) launched its Biomedical Research Technology program this fall. With sustained demand not only for doctors, nurses, and pharmacists, but also for research scientists and laboratory technicians in hospital, university, and industry settings, CGCC administrators recognized an important niche to fill.
“As an educator, I believe that it is our responsibility to train and educate our students in the frontiers of biomedical technology,” said Pushpa Ramakrishna, a member of CGCC’s biology faculty. “I also feel that it is important to educate students about the unprecedented advances in biomedical sciences and technology and train them to think and be like real life scientists in the classroom.”
The program, which grants an Associate in Applied Science degree, was designed in consultation with representatives of Arizona State University, the Chandler Unified School District, St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, the City of Chandler, the Town of Queen Creek, the Translational Genomics Research Institute, Insys Therapeutics, Covance, and Orthologic.
“This is a program that the city was excited to see added to CGCC’s curriculum,” said Christine MacKay, economic development director for the City of Chandler. “It’s a real step forward for us in moving toward the new 21st-century economy worker. This program will enable Chandler to attract more technology companies, because they will be able to find that qualified workforce.”
CGCC is the newest of three colleges among the Maricopa County Community Colleges with a formalized biosciences occupational program; the others are Mesa Community College, which has a Biotechnology program, and Glendale Community College, which has a Biotechnology and Molecular Biosciences program.
In terms of student enrollment in bioscience courses, the Maricopa County Community Colleges were led last year by Gateway Community College, followed by Phoenix College and South Mountain Community College, then Glendale and Mesa.
In September, South Mountain announced a significant development toward strengthening its bioscience program: for the third time in five years, the college has been awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The three-year, $290,000 Expanding Undergraduate Bioscience Engagement Track grant will support student research in biotechnology, and will help South Mountain link with several high schools in the Phoenix area, providing the high schools with new laboratory equipment, curricula and teacher training, and opportunities for dual-enrollment courses.
For more information:
Chandler-Gilbert Community College news release, 10/22/2008
South Mountain Community College news release, 09/04/2008