New Patient Care Technician diploma program provides foundation for successful health care career

Oregon, like much of the United States, is preparing for a very specific health care crisis. With more and more nurses reaching retirement age every day, the state has more open jobs in the field than those qualified to fill them. This is a big deal, because if you were to carve up a health care by profession pie, the nursing slice would be the largest one.

Right now, hospitals and clinics in both Oregon and Washington have hundreds of open nursing positions that they can’t fill because of the lack of qualified candidates to do so, says Joanna Russell, President of Sumner College. Russell adds that Sumner College is making a significant impact on the professional nursing workforce. One out of every 5 who obtained their license as a LPN in Oregon in 2016 & 2017 was a Sumner College graduate, accounting for more than 20% of the statewide newly licensed LPN workforce.

Sumner College opened in the 1970s as a court reporting institute, but soon realized a need for qualified healthcare professionals in the Portland area. In early 2009, the school began focusing on healthcare, specifically nursing. Sumner has worked hard to develop and maintain strong relationships in the healthcare community. Upon graduation, many students secure employment in clinics, hospitals and acute care facilities where they completed their practicum hours. With more than 800 graduates in the past 8 years, Sumner has been a leading force in filling the void of open nursing positions statewide.

In March of 2018, Sumner will launch a new Patient Care Technician (PCT) Program. This program is designed to provide students with the education necessary to operate hemodialysis machines, and work with patients experiencing kidney failure. The program is designed to be completed in less than eight months, and Sumner anticipates the same success with the PCT program as with their other Nursing programs. This program offers students a direct pathway to a thriving career field in a short amount of time.

All programs at Sumner College offer a unique academic model. Students are not required to take countless years of prerequisites prior to applying for a program. They are offered a quick and efficient pathway to fulfill their educational goal, and to begin working in the healthcare field. That is Sumner’s model, and the school’s motto is simple, “Get In. Get Out. Get on with Your Life.”

Right now, PCTs are desperately needed, Russell says, pointing out that Oregon and southwest Washington account for more than 200 vacant positions at this time. Graduates of this new program will find themselves with a starting salaries of around $32,000 - $40,000 per year, with the opportunity to earn as much as $45,000 annually through promotions and additional compensation.

And by partnering up with doctors’ offices, hospitals and nonprofit health services, Sumner will place students into those vacant positions, much as it does with graduates from its Registered Nursing (RN) and Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) programs.

And Sumner doesn’t just work with hospitals and doctors. It partners up with private medical companies that administer health care to the incarcerated.

“Corrections nursing is a different side of nursing, but here you need to be able to work in a fast-paced environment and have great critical thinking, organizational, and assessment skills,” says Mandie Zimmerman, Director of Nursing for Naphcare, Inc., which oversees patient treatment at the Washington County Jail in Hillsboro.

Her colleague, Melanie Menear, Naphcare’s Health Services Administrator says, “The students and new hires show the ability to assess and critically think very well, as well as being go-getters who learn quickly and have a fantastic skill set.”

The admissions process for the PCT program begins on January 4, 2018, and there are no prerequisites required to make application. In fact, Sumner College is the only nursing school in Oregon and Washington that doesn’t require prerequisite classes prior to applying to the school. Sumner also plans on offering two additional programs in the healthcare field in the near future.

It remains to be seen how the retention and hiring numbers for the PCT program will add up, but if they’re anything like the LPN and RN program, students should be in good shape. The retention rate for PN program is 94%, with 93% of students obtaining employment within the first six months of graduation. The RN rates are even stronger, with a 98% retention rate and a 95% placement rate.

Impressive as those numbers are, Russell won’t credit her faculty as much as she will her ambitious students.

“They are really dedicated,” she says. “They want to get in, get out and get on with their lives in a profession that truly makes a difference. I feel honored to have a role in supporting our students that continue to have a positive impact on our community and the healthcare field”.

Visit or call 1-877-682-5601 for more information.

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