Residents of Washington State now have a new, affordable option to prepare for well-paying careers. Bellevue College is set to offer a brand new bachelor’s degree program, in Healthcare Technology and Management, thanks to the recent approval by the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges.

After studying job data and trends, College officials recognized explosive job growth related to the ongoing computerization of medical records and sought to develop an educational program to help graduates land well-paying careers in the field. According to estimates by the American Medical Informatics Association, it will take as many as 200,000 workers to satisfy the projected job market demand, with thousands of positions in Washington State alone.

Graduates of the program can expect to find positions in anything from large hospitals to small physicians’ offices, developing and managing systems to record the vast amounts of electronic health information. The first classes are set to begin fall quarter, September 2012. The college expects to enroll 45 students in the first year, with annual enrollments growing to 90 students by year four.

“This new degree program is another example of how Bellevue College is educating people for the jobs of tomorrow,” said Dr. Kevin McCarthy, dean of Bellevue College’s Health Sciences, Education & Wellness Institute. “We did a lot of homework to identify a field that is going to be in-demand for many years to come. Our efforts are helping residents of our state gain access to affordable education so they can get jobs and progress in their fields, enabling them to better support themselves and their families.” 

The program completed the approval process on Jan. 23 when the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) gave its authorization. It joins two other four-year degrees currently offered at BC: a Bachelor of Applied Arts in Interior Design, and a Bachelor of Applied Science in Radiation and Imaging Sciences.

Community colleges like BC have typically offered only two-year degrees and certificates. However, a study by the state’s Higher Education Coordinating Board in 2008 concluded that existing universities could not provide enough graduates with bachelor’s degrees to meet the employment needs of companies and organizations here in Washington. Although no specific plans have been finalized, BC officials are currently studying options for creating additional bachelor’s degree programs in the future.

About Bellevue College: Serving 38,000 students each year, Bellevue College (BC) is the third largest educational institution in Washington State. BC offers associate degree programs covering the first two years of a college education as well as four-year baccalaureate degrees, certificates and continuing education programs in more than 90 professional and technical fields, such as information technology, telecommunications, business, education, health and public safety.

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