Allied Health programs producing top graduates

Allied Health programs producing top graduates

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College Director of Communications
417.447.2655 publicinfo@otc.edu
Steve Koehler
Coordinator of Publications (417) 447-2666 koehlers@otc.edu

By Steve Koehler

Allied health positions continue to rank at the top of the best-paying jobs of Ozarks Technical Community College graduates while business is at the top of technical majors students are enrolling in this fall.

Statistics released by OTC’s Career Employment Services show dental hygiene positions taken by those who graduated last fall or this spring paid an average of $58,996 with physical therapy assistants second, earning $45,270.

“It shows how we meet some of the needs of the business community. I think we meet the demands,” said Kathy Christy, director of OTC’s career services office.

Dianna Parker, OTC’s director of research and planning who compiled the information on top declared majors compiled from 2,443 OTC students, said the business and accounting majors were at the top of the list because “business is the backbone of a lot of different degrees.”

Parker said that the growth in majors such as the culinary arts and health information technology is due to the popularity of the programs and the overall growth in enrollment at OTC.

“Culinary arts has more than doubled in five years. That’s because they have a really good program. Health information technology has almost doubled in four years,” she said.

 According to the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, the 20 job openings in the state for 2008 and 2009 include, registered nurses, truck drivers, child care workers, bookkeepers, accountants and home care aides.

All of those positions can be studied through OTC’s technical education and allied health programs.

But graduating students into top paying jobs and attracting other students into the top technical majors doesn’t mean the work is over for Christy and others at OTC.

The director and her staff are in constant touch with businesses and their leaders about job demands of the future,

Christy said several OTC administrators recently met with St. John’s Hospital administrators who discussed their projected staffing needs and the top jobs they will expect to fill over the next 10 years.

 Christy understands the hospital is going paperless and converting all paper records to an electronic format, which means a degree in health information technology might increase in demand in years to come.

Christy is hoping to get other businesses to look into the future, too.

 “I’ve been calling other companies to see if they’re doing a similar workforce assessment to determine where their needs may be,” Christy said.  “Once OTC has that information we can discuss the type of courses that need to be designed and offered to better educate our students in the skills that will be needed and the types of jobs that will be available.”

Help in determining what courses and degrees to offer come from OTC’s many advisory boards. Each technical education and allied health program has an advisory board made up of experienced community leaders who provide valuable input into course content.

“We get a pulse of what’s happening out there and can get a snapshot in time of what’s going on in the real world,” she said.

Steve Koehler is coordinator of publications at Ozarks Technical Community College.