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WCC receives grants to prepare students for emerging health-care careers

Whatcom Community College leads collaborative efforts among colleges, local industry

Post Date:07/07/2016 9:13 a.m.

WCC medical assisting studentBellingham, Wash.  – Whatcom Community College (WCC) has been awarded three grants totaling $535,963 to develop instructional programs that will prepare students for emerging careers in the health-care industry. The grants are funded by the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges. At WCC, the projects will be led by Workforce Project Director Cindy Burman-Woods and Dean for Workforce Education Janice Walker.

“The grants provide important support for the College’s crucial role in preparing health-care professionals to meet the changing needs of employers and to provide the best possible care for patients,” says WCC President Kathi Hiyane-Brown. “By awarding the grants to WCC, the state board is signifying that WCC faculty and staff are leaders who listen to local industry needs and successfully collaborate with these partners and other colleges to develop meaningful solutions to workforce challenges.”

Two of the grants are funded through the state board’s Hospital Employee Education and Training (HEET) program. This is the sixth consecutive year WCC has received HEET grant funding. This year’s grant-funded projects include “Enhanced Nursing Assistant Certified Training in Acute Care.” The $269,709 grant will address industry demand for certified nursing assistants with training in acute care, behavioral health, working with aging populations, and medical terminology. WCC is the lead agency with partners PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare 1199NW, SEIU Healthcare 1199NW Multi-Employer Training and Education Fund, Northwest Workforce Council, and the Allied Health Center of Excellence at Yakima Valley Community College.

WCC will partner with Spokane Falls Community College (SFCC) on the second $358,430 HEET grant – “Building a Dually-Credentialed Chemical Dependency Professional Workforce.” WCC’s share of the grant is $169,841. SFCC and WCC will use the funds to create a fast-track, 15-credit chemical dependency professional program to meet demand for licensed mental health professionals who are also trained in chemical dependency. Partners include Compass Health, North Sound Mental Health Administration, SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, SEIU Healthcare 1199 NW Multi-Employer Training and Education Fund, and the Allied Health Center of Excellence.

The third grant is awarded through the state board’s workforce development funds grant program. WCC will use the $96,413 workforce grant to modernize its medical assisting program to address emergent needs identified by local community partners PeaceHealth Medical Group and Family Care Network. Graduates will be prepared for job responsibilities such as billing, coding and scribing as well as helping patients to navigate health-care choices. The job market is strong for nationally certified medical assisting graduates who have these professional skills. The project’s community partners, Northwest Workforce Council, and WCC’s medical assisting program advisory committee will provide industry insights to shape the curriculum.

About Whatcom: Whatcom Community College is a regionally and nationally accredited two-year college with an accomplished faculty and staff who serve 11,000 students annually. On its campus in Bellingham, Wash., and through online courses, Whatcom offers transfer and professional-technical degrees as well as basic education, job skills, and community and continuing education classes. For more information, visit

Contact: Mary Vermillion, Whatcom Community College PIO, 360.383.3310,


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