PISCATAWAY, NJ – Plans are being made to add a new health careers major on the Piscataway Campus of the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools, according to a MCVTS news release.

The new shop would be in addition to the health technology major on the Piscataway Campus, the health services major on the East Brunswick Campus, the Middlesex County Academy for Allied Health and Biomedical Sciences in Woodbridge, and the licensed practical nursing program for adults.

Graduates of the Woodbridge Academy are aimed at college, with about half of them intent on attending medical school, and admission is limited and highly competitive. Students in both the academy and the health technology program are taught anatomy, nutrition and medical terminology. 

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The new major, to begin in September, would focus on providing the training for initial certification needed to directly enter the healthcare workforce upon graduation or to continue on to advanced training, certification or licensing as a licensed practical nurse or emergency medical technician, according to Superintendent of Schools Brian J. Loughlin and Sean McDonald, director of career and technical education.

At a meeting of an advisory committee set up to plan for the additional program, MCVTS administrators and faculty heard that there is a large need for entry-level health care workers such as home health aides, certified nursing assistants, patient care technicians, nutrition aides, and more. These positions provide patient care and related services in hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities and private homes under the supervision of nurses and health care providers and staff.

“We are learning that there has been a tremendous change in the health-care industry, with the role of nurses and the training needed changing rapidly,” Loughlin said. “We need to fill in the gaps in training for our students interested in a variety of health-care careers.”

Arati Chaudhury of the Rutgers University School of Management and Labor Relations and the Health Care Talent Network told the committee the home health care and urgent care industries are growing, with new opportunities for students entering the workforce. Alan Fialka, administrator of Middlesex County’s Roosevelt Care Centers in Edison and Old Bridge, said the health care industry is “in dire need” of certified nursing assistants.

Assistant Superintendent of Schools Dianne Veilleux said the district will continue to study its health care majors with an eye toward updating and adding curriculum and seeking new articulation agreements to make college credits available to high school students. Getting college credits while still in high school can lessen the financial burden of college, Loughlin said.

The superintendent said the district also is considering linking its high school career majors with the 15-month post-secondary licensed practical nursing program for adults. The district also plans to seek additional certification, internship and apprenticeship programs for its students.

The Middlesex County Vocational and Technical School District, the first full-time county vocational school district in the nation, has seven schools on five campuses, in East Brunswick, Edison, Piscataway, Perth Amboy and Woodbridge. More information is available at www.mcvts.net.