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AACC Wins NCIA Award for Workforce Development Efforts

Jan. 13, 2006

Anne Arundel Community has won a 2005 Exemplary Initiatives Award from the National Council of Instructional Administrators (NCIA), an affiliate of the American Association of Community Colleges, for its School at Work (SAW) program promoting workforce development efforts among its students and the national healthcare industry.

NCIA selected "School at Work: Building a Career for Healthcare Workers" as an excellent example of a program enhancing the overall quality of higher education in two-year colleges throughout the United States.

"I am very proud of this award in recognition of AACC’s School at Work program," said AACC President Martha A. Smith, Ph.D. "SAW represents a bold new paradigm for teaching undereducated adults to succeed at both work and life. This program gives students confidence, self-esteem and enthusiasm for school, while providing them with the knowledge, skills and contacts for success far into the future."

SAW is a partnership between AACC and Catalyst Learning, a distance education firm in Kentucky. The program’s goal is to reconnect low-wage earning adults employed in the healthcare industry into education and career advancement within the healthcare industry.

The typical SAW participant works in dietary, housekeeping or environmental services at hospitals, retirement centers or nursing homes. Most are female, ages 31 to 50, with a high school diploma.

Combining a three-pronged approach -- DVD instruction, printed materials and Web-based resources -- the SAW program consists of two courses, "Introduction to Healthcare" and "Becoming a Healthcare Professional." Both are infused with comprehensive career development activities.

AACC developed the SAW curriculum, which has been revised and enhanced through four versions as a result of data analysis, assessment results, student feedback and input from hospital managers and coaches.

In 2002, the U.S. Department of Labor funded a regional SAW demonstration project. Phase 1 served 366 participants at 28 hospitals in four states. Phase 2 began in 2003 and served 1,615 participants at 118 hospitals in 19 states. In 2005, funding ended. SAW courses and services have been used by 165 healthcare employers in 25 states, providing funds to support the SAW project’s ongoing operation.

About one third of participants have enrolled in local continuing education or community college programs to gain credentials needed for job advancement. Additionally, 20 percent of those who successfully completed the program advanced into positions such as patient care technician, emergency room technician, respiratory technician, medical and unit secretary, team leader, supervisor, purchasing associate and medical records clerk.

Community colleges nationwide submitted award nominations in one of five areas: Student Retention and Success, Curriculum Innovation, Organizational Change, Assessment of Student Learning and Workforce Development. NCIA is a professional organization affiliated with the American Association of Community Colleges.

AACC will receive its award at the NCIA’s annual Celebration Breakfast April 22 in Long Beach, Calif. For SAW information, call Laura Weidner, executive director of AACC community and professional programs, at 410-777-2662.