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The college turns out more than 500 medical workers yearly into a field with robust demand

OUTLOOK PHOTO: TERESA CARSON - Douglas Scribner, dean of the Mt. Hood Community College health professions programs gets the lowdown on dental hygiene from students Shirley Luo and Lexi Chin (in loupe glasses). Douglas Scribner is settling in as the new dean of Mt. Hood Community College health professions programs just as the school launched a new medical assistant certificate.

There may be more new programs to come.

"We're going to do a needs assessment process and I need to learn what programs this community needs to have and where there are jobs," Scribner said.

"Mt. Hood needs to be not just reactive to community needs but proactive as well and try to anticipate community needs," he added.

Locally and nationally there is tremendous demand for trained health professionals. Health care occupations are the strongest growing of any field and projected to grow 18 percent through 2026, according to The Bureau of Labor statistics. That translates into about 2.4 million new jobs. The bureau attributed the robust demand to an aging population.

Good jobs

Most of these jobs are well paid. The average salary for health care occupations was $63,420 in May 2016, compared with $37,040 for all occupations. Locally, dental hygienists boast an average salary of $80,770 and funeral services professionals $62,574. However support occupations, such as home health care aides or medical transcriptionists earned an average of $27,910.

Scribner is leading one of the college's major departments. The health professions department offers 11 degree and certificate programs including dental hygiene, medical assistant, medical office professional, multiple types of nursing, physical therapist assistant, practical nursing, a nursing transfer program and respiratory care.

There also are programs in mental health, social service and addiction counseling and the state's only funeral services education and surgical technologist programs.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: MT. HOOD COMMUNITY COLLEGE  - MHCC nursing students Kristen Leon and Jonathan Wold work with a patient simulator as part of their training. The school turns out more than 500 health professionals in the various fields every year and employers eagerly hire the graduates.

"The people we've hired from Mt. Hood Community College are all very well-prepared," said Cindy Bianchini, the registered nurse and academic relations program director at Legacy Health.

She praised MHCC's surgical technology program as one example. "They are highly-regarded and one of the only programs in the area. The students are well-prepared," she said.

New certificate

The new medical assistant certificate takes less than a year to complete. Students getting the three-term certificate learn front office skills, such as billing, appointment scheduling and managing medical records. They also gain back-office expertise such as patient care, getting vital signs, drawing blood and taking patient history.

Unlike many programs at community colleges, the nursing, dental hygiene, funeral services and some other health professions programs are "restricted entry," and can be extremely competitive to get into.

For example, more than 100 people have already applied for the dental hygiene program for the 2018-19 school year, and the school can only accept 18.

The nursing program, a joint effort with Oregon Health & Science University, already has 418 applicants for the 2018-19 school year and can only accept 72 students. Accepted nursing students generally have about a 3.75 grade point average in pre-requisite courses. After MHCC, they complete their four-year-degrees at OHSU.

Pharmacy tech

Scribner came to MHCC from Dona Ana Community College in Las Cruces, N.M., where he was division dean for health sciences. Dona Ana is smaller than MHCC, serving 10,644 credit students. Like MHCC, Dona Ana is diverse; 73 percent of its students are Hispanic.

OUTLOOK PHOTO: TERESA CARSON - Scribner comes to Mt. Hood Community College from Dona Ana Community College in Las Cruces, N.M., where he was also dean of the health sciences programs. Prior to Dona Ana, Scribner was director of the pharmacy technician program at Central New Mexico Community College, Albuquerque.

"He has 25 years of experience," said Jarrod Hogue, executive dean at MHCC, who hired Scribner.

"He is somebody who is pragmatic, steady and brings leadership that we are excited to continue at the college," Hogue said.

Scribner began his career as a pharmacy technician before he went into education. He started his pharmacy tech career in the U.S. Army, graduating from the Army's Academy of Health Sciences in 1975 and from its pharmacy specialist course in 1977. He served at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas, and Fort Riley in Fort Riley, Kan.

After the Army, he used the GI Bill to go back to school at Citrus College, a community college in Glendora, Calif., while he was also working as a pharmacy technician.

That stint at the community college changed his perspective. "That was the first time I really felt I was successful academically," he said.

He went on to get a photography degree from California State University, Fullerton. But realizing that photography was not likely to be a lucrative career, he stayed with pharmacy.

By 1989 he was supervising the pharmacy techs at Albuquerque's Presbyterian Health Systems. The hospital asked him to work with Central New Mexico Community College on curriculum for training pharmacy technicians.

That led to a part-time teaching job and eventually Scribner became director of the program in 1993. To cement his position as an academic leader, he earned a master's degree in educational leadership from New Mexico Highlands University, at their Rio Rancho campus in 2011.

He delayed earning his master's degree because he wanted to spend more time with his family. He and his pharmacy-technician wife have a grown son and a daughter.

Scribner is active in the health care and education community, and is a member of multiple organizations including the Oregon Deans Association and the Association for Career and Technical Education. He was a pharmacy technician accreditation commissioner for the American Council for Pharmacy Education from 2014-16. He was a founder and president of the New Mexico Association of Pharmacy Technicians.

He praises MHCC's health programs. "The staff and faculty is doing a great job. I plan on being an advocate for the programs and faculty and staff." He wants to make sure the programs stay relevant to the community and needs of the health professions.

"I want to be a hands-on administrator," he said. "I like to be in the classrooms and labs. I liked teaching and I think I was good at it."

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