The burgeoning American Health Care Industry is going through trauma, which is exacerbated by the fact that training opportunities lag far behind the number of qualified applicants who are seeking to become health care professionals. Added to that is the fact that costs for the training have skyrocketed to the point that students lucky enough to get into the programs are dealing with a staggering load of personal debt by the time they spend their first day on the job.
As a response, I’m on a mission to provide quality health care training for qualified people at affordable prices. My mission is intensely personal. I’ve been in health care since I was 18 years old working as an assistant to a Clayton dentist. My on-the-job training was so effective that in two years and without a day’s worth of schooling, I passed the test to become a registered dental assistant. I wanted to move up in the health care field, but spent six years fruitlessly fighting a lottery system to cope with the imbalance created by too many applicants for the Dental Hygiene program. In spite of successfully completing my pre-requisites and holding a 3.8 GPA, I could never get into the program because my name simply was never drawn.
I finally applied for the nursing program at Los Medanos College. Once again I was forced to play the admittance lottery game, but on the second attempt my number finally came up. I subsequently earned my AA in Nursing, followed by my RN, and in 2001 began working at Sutter Delta Women’s Health Center, eventually becoming a Labor and Delivery specialist.
I decided to do something to address the problem of schools turning away qualified applicants in such great numbers and then charging outrageous fees for students who actually gained admission. I began to research the possibility of opening a school for health-based vocational education right here in Antioch. It seemed to me that it should be possible to provide quality education for much less money.
As it turned out, I was right! The fee for our Medical Assistant program is under $3,500 as opposed to another facility in the region that charges $20,000 for the same training.
I began putting the plan together in 2004. It was a huge job! For example, I had to write a 90-page business plan before I could get approval from the state. I then had to design and build the facility, develop my curriculum, hire instructors, design a website, put together the necessary in-house tracking forms and program materials, plus creating the required advertising and sales brochures. For three years I worked day and night while confronting the seemingly endless number of details required in order to bring my dream to pass.
At the beginning I faced a lot of skepticism. Most people in my position who would consider starting a business would be opening a yogurt shop, perhaps, or a small clothing boutique. It was difficult for people to imagine me opening my own medical training facility. Everything finally came together, however. We secured the funding, built the facility, assembled the staff, matriculated the first students, and opened the school on November 5, 2007. A total of 16 students were enrolled in two instructional programs — Phlebotomy and Medical Assisting.
Local residents no longer had to travel to distant places for the top-rate and affordable professional training. I’m a community-oriented person myself and prefer to stay this side of “the hill” for working, shopping, and recreation. Our home is a ten-minute drive from the school. Like many of our students, avoiding the commute is one of the great things in my life.
We’ve come a long way since our beginning. We have graduated thousands of students and have more than 200 students currently enrolled in our seven programs and courses.
We are recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) and are nationally accredited. Our accreditation was recently renewed and we were especially honored by receiving a five-year renewal rather than the typical three-year. We also have an approved online e-learning Phlebotomy program, which is the first and still remains the only approved program of its kind in the State of California. We plan to become an Associate Degree Granting Institution with new as-yet-to-be-announced associate degree programs. We are applying to the DOE for approval to offer FAFSA Title IV Funding, which will provide a subsidy for some students’ educational expenses.
Private schools have been shutting down, in part because of their poor performance in actually finding jobs for graduates in their fields. However, we have an effective success rate with our graduates of nearly 100%. We place nearly 80% of them into jobs in their field; the other 20% use our education as stepping-stones to larger goals that they’ve set for themselves. The paths we provide into the health care professions really are affordable and effective. We’re succeeding because of our student-first philosophy; their success is our success.
CCMCC has been growing during our decade-long history. We began with a 1,200 square foot facility. Two years later we doubled to 2,500. In 2013 we doubled again to our current 5,200 square feet. In a few months we will be moving to a new facility. It will be in the same Blue Rock Center but will be five times larger than our current facility. We will be able to offer expanded student services including a fully equipped media center, library, student lounge, and an administrative wing.
However, CCMCC will never grow so big that we lose the personal touch that makes this job so much fun. We will remain people-oriented; instructors will continue to have personal relationships with each student.
Motivation and determination are the two key factors in success. My Contra Costa Medical Career College provides visible concrete-and-glass proof of the fact that with hard work a person can do anything.