HCC 'fast-track' health science courses open doors to some medical fields

By Andi Atkinson

Feb 5, 2024

Sura Obaidi fast-tracked into a job with Boston Scientific. 

Careers in many health care fields can require years of education and training, but some health science programs at Houston Community College (HCC) prepare students for jobs in just months.

Several “fast-track” programs in the Continuing Education Department allow students to start and finish in under five months. Among the programs are courses to allow students to become certified nurse aides (CNA), medical coders, electrocardiogram (EKG) technicians, medical business office professionals, phlebotomist and telemetry technicians.

The HCC programs provide options for students who wish to begin working as quickly as possible, according to Konnie King Briggs, program manager for several of the program tracks.

“Most students who take the full lecture, lab, and clinical route we recommend can finish within five months. It’s less time if they choose to not take the clinical portion,” Briggs said.

Students pay on average $1,500 in tuition for the programs, so return on investment is excellent, she noted. In some cases, help with tuition is available.

Those who complete the programs can earn good starting wages and can continue in college, if they wish.

“Many of our students want to get their feet wet in health care to see if they want to stay with it for the long term,” Briggs said. “Our programs can serve as a foundation for higher-skilled professional roles. For example, we have many CNAs who return to school while they work to become licensed vocational nurses or registered nurses.”

Director of Continuing Education Healthcare Programs Rosalinda Garza said the majority of students in the programs pass their state and national certifications on their first attempt.

“The reason for our high success rate is that we have experienced instructors in our programs with vast amounts of experience, knowledge and skills,” Garza said. “We also have strong standardized curricula, and the instruction includes clinical skills that students learn hands on.”

Jacob Janek, a Kelsey-Seybold Clinic exercise physiologist, completed the EKG Technician program in June 2021. He chose the program because he desired more firsthand interaction with patients.

“I could talk to them, but I couldn’t do anything clinically to help them,” Janek said.

Janek completed a clinical externship with Kelsey-Seybold Clinic and was offered his current job there.

Jarezy Munoz, a phlebotomist with MD Anderson Cancer Center, finished the HCC phlebotomy tech program in 2023. The former substitute teacher wanted an opportunity to transition into health care.

“I always knew I wanted to work in a hospital, and I thought it would be a good steppingstone into the medical field,” she said. “I researched different colleges and programs near me and saw the phlebotomy opening at HCC. The online classes and one day of lab fit with my schedule, so I enrolled.”

She performed a clinical externship with MD Anderson, where she continues to work today.

In addition to saving time and money, the HCC phlebotomy program offered Munoz another bonus: support.

“The staff really tries to help you pass your national certification exam, and they’ll help you find a job after you finish,” she said.

Mike Kury, a telemetry monitor technician at Houston Methodist, completed the HCC telemetry tech program last year. The former elementary school teacher decided to embark on a second career.

“I realized I had a passion for the medical field (so) I decided to take the program to get my foot in the door,” he said.

Kury became a full-time Houston Methodist employee upon completing the HCC program.

Sura Obaidi, a clinical educator with Boston Scientific, completed both the EKG and Telemetry programs in October 2017. The wife and mother of two wanted to embark on a career.

“I had an interest in EKG, and it would allow me to finish quickly. I started as soon as possible,” she said. “I really liked the courses, so I also studied telemetry.”

Obaidi was recruited by Boston Scientific and now trains new staff in her role.

“I was hired as an EKG technician and was promoted very quickly,” Obaidi said. “The fast-track route was a great decision for me.”

To learn more about the programs, call (713) 718-7583.

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