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Valley highlights healthcare jobs that only require an associate degree

Current healthcare employees shared their educational experiences with Monarchs.

By Cassandra Nava, News Editor

Valley College’s Career and Transfer Center hosted a virtual panel that offered students insight into healthcare careers requiring an associate degree.

The panel titled “Healthcare Careers with a Two-year Degree or Less” highlighted four careers such as dental hygienist, emergency medical technician, physical therapy aid and respiratory therapist. Former students from community colleges across the state discussed how obtaining a degree was the first step for their career. Each panelist introduced themselves and their job. Of the four panelists, Sheila David was the only one who started her educational journey at Valley.

“I got my associate degree at LA Valley College,” said David, a respiratory therapist. “It was a great two year program. What I can tell you now about respiratory therapy, especially with the current pandemic, it's a very sought after job. You get to help a lot of people with their breathing.”

Following the panelists' introduction was a question and answer portion, moderated by STEM counselor Kassidy Miller. STEM encompasses disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. According to Valley’s website, healthcare careers can be achieved by taking courses linked through the STEM program at the college.

When asked how their jobs have changed since COVID-19, dental hygienist Joane Kay Tiongson explained how her field was one of the first to stop treatments.

“We didn’t work for about two to three months — until all the protocols were put in place,” said Tiongson. “Then we were able to take patients in, but only one at a time. Now we are pretty much back to normal, but with full PPE on of course.”

Former emergency medical technician Kerry Sung explained how the usually fast-paced job changed. He explained that when he was an EMT, he worked for LA County responding to 911 calls. Sung, who is now studying to be a medical scribe, spoke on behalf of the EMT career. He said his former colleagues who are currently EMTs described a day in the life in the age of COVID-19.

“Whenever someone does make a 911 call now, the dispatcher asks for their symptoms,” said Sung. “If they have any flu-like symptoms, coughing, fever, or anything that points to signs of possible coronavirus, then most of the team will actually stay outside while the paramedic goes in. They make sure everything is clear, and then they take the patient to the hospital. EMTs also try to enforce the patient to meet outside if they are able to do so.”

Many students in the panel used the chat feature on Zoom to ask specific questions. Miller informed students that since all degrees and requirements differ, students are encouraged to meet virtually with a counselor and take advantage of the Career and Transfer Center.

The Career and Transfer Center offers students assistance in the transfer process. Counselors can also help a student decide on their major and general interests. They then help plan the students' courses for their degree or transfer. There is also a Virtual Career Center offered, where students can assess their interests and colleges without having to speak to a counselor.

The last half hour of the panel allowed students to go into “breakout rooms” with the panelist of their choice. Along with giving advice on what makes a good physical therapy aide, Ryan Taylor also gave advice to students interested in healthcare careers in general.

“I would tell my younger self to study hard and look into the classes you are going to take,” said Taylor. “Any volunteer service looks good, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. That will set you apart.”

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