RVC Receives Grant To Improve Access To Healthcare Occupations

Illinois Community College Board has awarded Rock Valley College a grant totaling $469,542 to deliver enhanced career and technical education programs in the health science field. The Public Access to Healthcare (PATH) grant supports a variety of activities including staffing, training, equipment, and recruitment and retention of students.

According to US News & World Report, “By 2025, the U.S. is estimated to have a shortage of approximately 446,000 home health aides, 95,000 nursing assistants, 98,700 medical and lab technologists and technicians, and more than 29,000 nurse practitioners, according to a 2021 report conducted by industry market analytic firm Mercer.”

The programs impacted by the grant include emergency medical technology, respiratory care therapy, nursing, nursing assistant (CNA), and phlebotomy. In January 2023, RVC will add another program to its listing: certified medical assisting (CMA). It is estimated that the grant will impact approximately 360 students each year.

The grant will have an impact across all health sciences programs at RVC.  

“Our programs will be able to purchase and/or upgrade industry equipment used in our facilities to train our students. We want to prepare our students and graduates to enter the workforce with knowledge and skills on the most current equipment that is used in patient care,” said Ellen Njolstad-Oksenevad, RVC’s Dean of Nursing and Allied Health.

Grant funds will also be used for faculty development and expansion of programs. Continuous training of allied health faculty contributes to high-quality education across all of the programs. In addition to the new CMA program, RVC can purchase additional equipment for the EMT program in order to expand its offerings into high schools.

“Several high schools have a pathway model which offers a dual credit EMT course. There is a lot of different equipment needed for EMT training, and it is very specific,” continued Ellen. “The PATH grant allows us to provide the equipment needed for expansion in area high schools.”

An important aspect of the grant is directly supporting the needs of new and continuing students. Therefore, a new position is being created called the Health Science Retention Specialist. This position will provide additional support and management of students to help them be more successful in RVC programs and beyond.

Using a case management approach, the specialist will provide tailored support to students before challenges arise.

Ellen added, “Healthcare programs are rigorous, and some students are not prepared for or aware of the pace of the programs, placing them at risk for course/program failure. Ultimately, this decreases the number of future healthcare professionals that are needed. While faculty are content experts and can assist in student learning on course content, there is much more that affects the student’s ability to be successful in a program.”

It’s clear that Ellen and her team in RVC Allied Health programs have their work cut out for them to fill essential healthcare positions in our community. The financial support provided by the PATH grant has the potential to greatly impact RVC programs and the greater community.

For more information about RVC Allied Health programs visit www.rockvalleycollege.edu


About ICCB

The Illinois Community College System is coordinated by the Illinois Community College Board comprised of citizens appointed by the Governor. Locally elected boards of trustees set policies that guide their colleges in achieving local and statewide goals. Within the System, organized groups representing students, faculty, trustees, staff, administrators, and college presidents, and all of these groups are actively involved in the decision-making process for the System. Colleges meet both local and statewide needs for education and workforce development through high-quality, affordable, accessible, and cost-effective programs and services.