Baker College of Muskegon launched the two-year degree program in response to a shortage of x-ray technicians among health care providers in the market.
“It’s all based on need,” said Trudi Kenny, dean of health sciences at Baker College of Muskegon. “There’s definitely a shortage of radiologic technicians.”
The school has accepted 30 students into the inaugural radiologic technology program, which debuted with the beginning of the fall term.
The new radiologic technology associate’s degree brings to 10 the number of two-year degree programs Baker College of Muskegon offers in health sciences and health care fields, ranging from emergency medical technicians, pharmacy technicians and therapists, to front-office positions such as medical receptionists and transcriptionists.
The college also offers 11 certification courses in health sciences that are designed to enable a student to begin working in the field as they earn their degree, a well as four-year bachelor degree programs in health care administration and rehabilitation studies for physical and occupational therapists, Kenny said.
More than 900 students enrolled in health sciences programs at Baker College of Muskegon this fall. Health sciences is one of the largest areas of study at the college and has grown steadily over the years, as more people look at careers in health care, Kenny said.
Enrollment for medical assistant training alone tripled from 2001 to 2002 and will likely double this year, Kenny said.
Health care offers a relatively stable career, Kenny said. The element of serving and helping people is also part of the allure, she said.
“It’s a caring profession. People want to help people, and it’s challenging work and it’s never boring,” Kenny said.
One profession that Baker College of Muskegon has not ventured into is nursing, although college administrators regularly review the potential to begin a nursing program locally, Kenny said.
The move, she said, would carry significant upfront costs and the college needs to make sure there is demonstrable need for additional nursing education in the Muskegon area, where Muskegon Community College already offers two-year nursing degrees.
“We need to make sure it’s the right move for us,” Kenny said. “It’s always being talked about. Let’s just say it’s built in as a ‘continue to look at.’”
In radiologic technology, Baker College is offering a new course of study in a health care field where the demand for trained professionals is growing at a rate faster than the average for all occupations and is expected to continue doing so at least through 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Job opportunities, the bureau reported in its 2003-04 Occupational Outlook Handbook, “are expected to be favorable,” forcing care providers to become increasingly creative in the pay and benefit package and work conditions to draw trained staff.
“Imbalances between the supply of qualified workers and demand should spur efforts to attract and retain qualified radiologic technologists and technicians,” the handbook stated.
The median pay as of 2000 for radiologic technologists and technicians who operate x-ray machines and other imaging equipment was $39,400 a year for people working in medical and dental laboratories, $36,280 for hospitals, and $34,870 in physician offices and clinics.