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Care Forward Colorado a boost to health care

Pikes Peak State College received $3.8 million out of a total of $26 million in state recovery dollars made possible by Senate Bill 22-226 and signed into law by Gov. Jared Polis in May. Senators Sonya Jacquez Lewis and Bob Rankin and Rep. Kyle Mullica co-sponsored the bill. The funding will be used to train health care workers across Colorado in specific programs.Karen Kovaly, PPSC communication coordinator, said the funds are meant to fill the gaps from a depleted pool of health care workers in certain fields. ìEven before the pandemic, Colorado was facing a deep shortage of entry level health care positions,î Kovaly said. ìAfter Covid, it just got completely depleted. These are job positions that require a certificate. Most of the coursework can be completed in less than a year.îStudents who wish to enroll in designated certification programs will get free tuition, fees, books, materials and necessary vaccinations. Funding will also cover prerequisite courses that might be needed for a program.The paid programs include certified nursing assistant, emergency medical technician, advanced emergency medical technician, EMT enhanced curriculum, paramedic, phlebotomy technician, pharmacy technician, advanced pharmacy practice, medical receptionist, clinical office assistant, medical coding specialist and dental assistant.The funding does not pay for electives, two-year degrees or advanced degrees.Supplemental federal financial aid can be used in addition to the Care Forward Colorado funds for living expenses, technology needs or other related costs. To determine qualifications for supplemental federal student aid, students must complete a free Application for Federal Student Aid. Information about the FAFSA can be found at intent of the program is to prepare students to enter the workforce in a timely manner. ìThey are job ready as soon as they pass the test and get the certification. It will potentially get people infused into the workforce as quickly as possible,î Kovaly said. ìMost people who complete these certification programs either enter the workforce immediately or go on to complete another certificate or get a higher degree, such as nursing or advanced paramedics.îThe program ends December 2024 or sooner if the allocated funds are depleted. Once enrolled and accepted into the paid program, students can take longer to complete it.Enrollment at PPSC has increased slightly since it was announced in the summer. Kovaly said they anticipate continued increased enrollment in the spring and fall of 2023.Anyone interested in starting a certification program can apply on the PPSC website. Students currently enrolled in a designated certification program will be eligible for funding going forward; funding is not retroactive. For students currently enrolled in two-year programs who want to change, Kovaly encourages them to speak with an academic advisor before changing. ìIf youíre changing your path, we want you to talk to an academic advisor and the financial aid office to make sure youíre not wasting your money by making a change,î she said. ìThey can also advise on what you need to do to make a change.î Students currently enrolled in an advanced program who need a certification as part of their program requirements are not eligible for Care Forward Colorado funding.Kovaly said that PPSC has built a new center for health care education, where most of their Allied Health programs are housed. ìWe have state-of-the-art simulation. It is pretty special and unique in southern Colorado. This will allow us to increase our capacity so we can keep turning these graduates out of the program,î she said. ìThe beauty of the Care Forward Colorado funding is these jobs are in high-growth careers and have a really good living wage to provide for a family.î

Programs vary in number of required credits to complete.
  • Certified Nursing Assistant (six credits)
  • Emergency Medical Technician (12 credits)
  • Advanced Emergency Medical Technician (13 credits)
  • EMT Enhanced Curriculum (15 credits)
  • Paramedic (49 credits)
  • Phlebotomy Technician (16 credits)
  • Pharmacy Technician† (33.5 credits)
  • Advanced Pharmacy Practice† (11 credits)
  • Medical Office Administration / Medical Receptionist† (42 credits)
  • Medical Assistant / Clinical Office Assistant (42 credits)
  • Medical Outpatient Coding & Reimbursement / Medical Coding Specialist (28 credits)
  • Dental Assisting†(47-48 credits)

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