Program offers employment fast track

Times-Herald Newspapers

A Dearborn Public Schools medical assistant certification program last week celebrated its largest graduating class since being instituted in 2007.

DPS officials and about 100 family and friends attended a ceremony at the Michael Berry Career Center in Dearborn Heights to honor 29 students who received certifications in various medical fields.

The program, which is part of the DPS Adult Education curriculum, offers students a choice of four study areas including nursing and home care, medical assistant clerical, medical assistant clerical and patient care technician, a combination of the nursing care and clinical courses. Among the graduates, 11 received certificates for the clinical program, 10 for the clerical, eight for the nursing and home care and five for the patient care.

The program is designed to give students an employment fast track into the fastest-growing industry in the country. Student who graduate typically land jobs that pay about $12 an hour and include benefits, but it’s the door it opens that is the real draw, said adult education Supervisor Carole Wells.

“A lot of the times what happens is they will get a job and the employer likes their skills, so they end up paying for other classes to become things like a radiologist tech,” Wells said.

She attributes the program’s growth to having a strong product at a relatively low cost. While other certification courses at places like Everest Institute can cost as much as $14,000, tuition for the DPS program is only $1,500. And as former students go out and impress employers, Wells said, future students are reaping the benefits.

“We actually have quite a few offices and agencies calling us to see if we have any students for them to hire because our graduates have performed so well,” she said.

For Mike Mercier, who received a medical clinical certification on Thursday, the decision to take the course was based on the strong job prospects. Mercier spent 27 years in the printing business before industry downsizing left him jobless. But with two kids to feed, Mercier knew he didn’t have time for protracted studies.

“The hiring is what brought me here, but the quickness is another thing,” Mercier said. “I needed a job yesterday and these are pretty secure positions, so that’s why I’m here.”