PCC Desert Vista Campus

PCC Desert Vista Campus

courtesy of Pima Community College

As Pima Community College’s spring semester classes get underway, PCC’s federally funded Pathways to Healthcare Program continues transforming low-income Pima County residents into highly trained healthcare professionals.

Pathways had enrolled 1,023 participants by Sept. 29, according to the latest available data. Of those, 406 have completed training and 340 are employed, 210 in a healthcare field and earning an average hourly wage of $12.05, compared to Arizona’s minimum hourly wage of $7.90.

PCC partners on the $18.5 million, five-year grant with Pima County OneStop, with a goal to enroll 1,750 to 2,000 low-income Pima County residents, especially recipients of federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and help them earn degrees or certificates in 16 specialized medical fields. Pathways is one of 32 programs across the country funded by a Health Profession Opportunity Grant (HPOG) from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Administration for Children & Families.

Pathways helps remove barriers to education by assisting participants in paying for such things as tuition, books, clinical uniforms, supplies, exam preparation and fees, as well as such things as bus passes and eye glasses.

Demographic data on Pathways participants show:

  • 83 percent are female
  • 37 percent had total family incomes lower than $15,000 in the previous year
  • 58 percent live with one or more children
  • 42 percent are 40 or older

In October, Pathways participant Brooke Mendoza, 25, started working for Prestige Assisted Living of Green Valley after she passed her practical nurse licensing exams. She received Pathways support to compete Nursing Assistant Training and Practical Nurse Training, both offered through PCC’s Center for Training and Development.

Mendoza first learned of the Pathways training in fall 2011, when she was unemployed and living with her parents and younger sister in Sahuarita. Mendoza had been volunteering at an assisted living facility and contacted OneStop for help finding training as a caregiver.

“What made Pathways for me were the instructors and the staff – the way they worked with us and shared their knowledge,” Mendoza said. “The variety of the clinicals really helped us decide where we wanted to work once we got experience.” 

At Prestige, Mendoza is the only LPN for its 25-resident dementia community and manages the weekend staff. Prestige serves about 60 clients total. Mendoza said Prestige already has sent her to out-of-state training.

Pathways staff works to train participants to their highest earning potential and helps them get a job after they have completed training. Integral to Pathways are the 10-week College Readiness classes – remedial and basic skills classes to help participants meet training prerequisites.

“The Pathways to Healthcare Program is a win for Pima County,” states Amanda Abens, Director of both CTD and Pathways.  “Students receive much needed guidance, support and assistance, and employers receive confident, skillful and compassionate employees.”

Pathways is one of nine programs across the country that is part of the Innovative Strategies for Increasing Self-Sufficiency (ISIS) Study, funded by HHS. The study is a rigorous evaluation of new strategies for increasing the economic self-sufficiency of low-income individuals and families. The  evaluation funded by the federal government is being conducted to determine how the Pathways to Healthcare Health Profession Opportunity Grant helps people increase their skills and find jobs. Individuals who are eligible for the program and agree to participate in the study will be selected into the program based on a lottery.

Anyone interested in learning more about Pathways should first attend an information session, offered throughout the week at PCC’s Desert Vista Campus, 5901 S. Calle Santa Cruz, and at OneStop’s Rio Nuevo Office, 340 N. Commerce Park Loop, Suite 100. Anyone interested in enrolling in a Pathways program should call (520) 206-5250 for times and locations of upcoming sessions.

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