New degree program supports healthcare industry

May 29, 2018

Public Relations

Palo Alto College, part of the Alamo Colleges District, will begin offering a new degree program designed to support the high demand for occupations in Bexar County's growing healthcare industry. The new program will offer students the opportunity to earn a 60-credit-hour Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Healthcare Administration or a 36-credit-hour Level 2 Certificate for Healthcare Unit Coordinator.

"Providing accessible education and training to promote the economic life of our community is central to Palo Alto College's mission," said Dr. Mike Flores, president of Palo Alto College. "We know our students are the future workforce of San Antonio, and we want to ensure they're prepared to continue the work to develop south San Antonio."

Students completing the Healthcare Administration program will gain extensive knowledge in areas such as current healthcare trends; management of financial and personnel operations; and regulatory/legal processes in healthcare management. The program will equip graduates for entry-level administrative positions in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, mental health centers, nursing homes, home health providers, clinics, and more. A required practicum will provide students with field experience and general workplace training at local healthcare agencies.

"People who hire for these positions require experience. How does a person who hasn't gotten a job in this role get that experience?" said Steve Alaniz, CEO of Momentum Physical Therapy and Palo Alto College alum. "A program like this will provide the education in a formal setting, as well as the training that's required for them to check that box for experience."

Since stepping into his role as CEO in 2009, Alaniz has led Momentum Physical Therapy to expand from two clinics in San Antonio to 16 clinics in four states and has added over 100 jobs to the San Antonio area economy. As a local business owner, Alaniz understands the need for healthcare administration graduates in the region. Momentum is partnering with the College to launch the Healthcare Administration program with the promise to grant job interviews to graduates of the program—an agreement he calls a "win-win."

"Finding trained and qualified applicants to fill our administrative positions is really difficult," said Alaniz. "Not everyone is going to go to school to be a [healthcare] provider. The providers out there absolutely need people to fill the administrative roles. For a growing economy like ours, to source the workers from our actual community is important. It gives people jobs, and it helps businesses to continue to grow."

The Healthcare Administration program is expected to expand certifications in its second year to include Billing and Coding, Electronic Health Records, and more.

Opportunities in the healthcare field are expanding at an unprecedented pace nationwide. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare is one of the fastest growing career fields for individuals with associate degrees. Employment is expected to increase 28.8 percent by 2024 in the Bexar County region, with an average entry-level hourly wage of $30.72.

"We have a significant population that is older and very much in need of healthcare, in terms of hospitals, rehab facilities, nursing homes, and facilities that any healthcare administrator would be able to find employment," said Dr. Mary-Ellen Jacobs, director of Workforce Programs at Palo Alto College and lead curriculum developer for the program. "The career ladder with healthcare administration is obvious with degree progression, which can go all the way up through a doctorate. It opens so many doors for our students... An individual with this skillset is well-positioned to move up."

Applications for the Fall 2018 semester can be submitted until Monday, Aug. 6, 2018. Classes begin on Monday, Aug. 27, 2018. For more information, call 210-486-3100.