Completing An Associate Degree in Healthcare with a High School Diploma

Houston high school students that are interested in working in the healthcare industry will be able to get the training that they need at Westside High School soon. The program will provide the students with a head start to a career in one of the largest industries in Houston. The Houston Independent School District, also known as the HISD, is partnering with Houston Community College and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center School of Health Professions.

Dean Dr. Shirley Richmond has said that the program will almost be able to fulfill the large void of unfilled positions in the medical industry in the state. ""It's an easy sell, in that everyone knows that there are jobs in the health care field. And we're on the clinical laboratory science side and the radiological science side, and there's predicted by 2020, there's a 17% vacancy in the job workforce for the radiation therapy and about a 15% in the clinical laboratory science side. So there will be jobs in healthcare forever," she said.

Students participating in the program will be exposed to career fields in clinical laboratory science, molecular genetic technology, radiation therapy, diagnostic imaging, and other options. HISD superintendent Dr. Terry Grier says that the program provides a direct pipeline for students into the Texas Medical Center. ""Why Westside? Interesting thing about technology. Technology doesn't understand this concept of distance. Technology is right here and it's right now. And so, our intention full intention is to offer many of these general education courses online. That's exciting. That's the wave of the future," he shared.

Westside Principal Peggi Stewart said that the program will allow students some time to decide what kind of career they would like to get into in the medical industry. ""A lot of kids, they're thinking, 'I want to be a doctor. I want to be a vet.' But what they don't know is the hundreds of different types of careers that are available to them without having to become a doctor. And so sometime what happens, somewhere along the way, they think, 'You know, I don't think I want to be a doctor after all.' And so, that's our responsibility, is to teach them about all the different fields that are out there."" she added.

Scheduled to start in spring of 2014, the program will allow for students to earn college credit while they are getting their high school diploma. It will give them hards-on work opportunities, which are often hard to come by when trying to get into the field of healthcare, especially at a young age. The high school and the college have strong beliefs and high hopes that the new program will be able to provide students with a large amount of opportunities while enriching their lives with unique curriculum. Students that graduate from the program will have a early start to their career and will be able to pursue many additional opportunities in the future.