MC’s Perth Amboy Center and New Brunswick Center administrators informed attendees via Zoom last month on the health programs that MC offers, and how to register for this upcoming semester.
Evelyn J. Rosa, director of the New Brunswick Center, said, “Many of our students want to be nurses or radiographers, or they want to go into dental hygiene, and they don't know how to go about it. We want to give you a chance to learn the ins and outs of that particular profession, so [that] you can make the best-informed decision.”
Patti Luck, a Radiography department faculty member, said, “In X-ray, you do way more than pushing a button, which is what a lot of people think; you push a button, you take a picture and that's all there is to it. It is much more involved in that; it involves knowing an extensive knowledge of anatomy and physics, and there's a lot of patient care.”
She said communication with patients is critical to ensure they feel comfortable and confident in your ability to care for them and take the required images.
Luck said they are hoping to start the program in July.
“Our previous classes always started in September, but we are moving that to a July start,” said Luck.
She said it is a 24-month program, including summer, with a demanding schedule; however, there are some breaks, like winter and spring.
She said the Radiography Program is competitive, so you can’t just register for it.
“You have to meet some prerequisites, and that would include a high school GPA of 2.75 or higher. You need to have biology with a lab and chemistry with a lab,” said Luck, “You need to have the equivalent of algebra one, and all [in] those courses you need to have achieved a score of C or better. You also have to take a Test of Essential Academic Skills, or TEAS test... [and] the [you] score [got] on that test, along with your grades in high school or college, would be combined to rank you among the applicants.
She said students visit clinical sites two days a week during their first semester in this competency-based program, and are evaluated on how well they perform exams on patients.
Luck said, “You end the program with an associate [degree] in applied science, and at the end of the program, you are prepared to sit for the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists Certifying Exam. Once you get your certification, you can work in all 50 states.”
“You can go on and do things such as MRI, CAT scan [CT scan], ultrasound [and] things like that,” she said.
“The average wage for radiologic technologists in New Jersey right now is about $32 an hour,” Luck said, “The per diem rates in our area are, generally for new graduates, in the high $20 an hour, and the average salary for technologists in New Jersey is around $66,000 a year. [It] can be much higher [or] lower than that depending on what type of position you hold.”
Luck said because of COVID-19, they were not at their clinical sites and were asked to leave in the middle of last March. They returned at the end of August and, since then, the students are learning and working around COVID-19 patients.
Charlotte Quigley, director of Civic Engagement and Community Partnership at MC, said she helps students prepare for employment and package themselves to attract employers.
Quigley said, “The growth rate of the number of opportunities within a 20-mile radius around Middlesex College in Edison is going up. This is live data the College provides to anyone who's looking into any of our programs.”
Audrey Davis-Dunning, assistant director at the Perth Amboy Center, said, “One of the primary things I do is strategize a way for you to get all of your prerequisites done so you can apply at the earliest time that's available to you, and maximize your chances of making your application strong. We become a team, and you know, we're going for the win.”
Michelle Roman, chairperson of the Dental Hygiene Program, said working in the dental hygiene field, students were exposed to germs before COVID-19, so they always had personal protection equipment (PPE).
“In order to receive a licensure for dental hygiene, there is a criminal background check that is done. We also do a criminal background check prior to any student beginning the program; we do that because, when you graduate, the New Jersey State Board of Dentistry also does this criminal background check,” Roman said.
She said, for anybody interested in pursuing a profession in dental hygiene, now is a great time to consider it because many are retiring due to COVID-19.
She said she gets weekly emails from dental offices looking for graduates.
Roman said, “Bilingual speaking or even just multiple languages is definitely an asset for any dental facility.”
She said things like chairside mannerisms, which would make you stand out amongst your peers, cannot be taught.
She said this is also a competitive program.
Roman said, “You do need to have the grade of a C or better in biology with a lab and chemistry with a lab; this can be your biology and chemistry class from high school as long as it has that lab component, and you get a grade of C or better.”
She said she always refers students interested in applying to links for help with studying for the TEAS test.
Roman said the acceptance letters go out roughly around April, then, in May, you attend an orientation where you get all the information needed for the next two years. There is a second orientation in August, then classes begin in the fall.
“It is a great salary for the most part. Our recent graduates, for the last couple of years, have made about $40 an hour just coming out of hygiene school. Full time, this could be about an $80,000 a year job,” Roman said, “It is flexible as well, some hygienists work in multiple offices, and they work around their schedule. It's a very professional atmosphere,” she said.
Roman said the admission cycle opens in June, and it closes roughly in December.
Nancy Berger, director of the Nursing Program, said their program is also a two-year program, and they only admit in September.
“You must start the program in the fall and complete four consecutive semesters,” said Berger.
Berger said, “The beauty of our program is it tends to be less expensive than a baccalaureate or an accelerated baccalaureate, and it gets you into the workforce earlier. Then what happens is a lot of the institutions encourage you to continue to go back for your education, so isn't it nice that you could potentially finish your education.”
Berger said, “We encourage all of our graduates to go back for their bachelor's degree, master's degree and their doctoral degree, but isn't it nice if somebody else can [pay] that bill instead of you; a lot of the agencies do pay for your education.”
She said you will not be a registered nurse simply because you've graduated, but you will be prepared to take the National Council Licensure Examination, which is given in every state.
Mary Huggins, Nursing Program coordinator, said, “Because we are affiliated with a hospital, Hackensack Meridian, our graduates can go into a specialty area, which sometimes isn't always the case with other programs. Also, because we do clinical [work] at the hospital, sometimes there are other opportunities open for our students that may not be open for other students or graduates from another school.”
Berger said they warn their students early on about how difficult the program is.
“We start off telling our students from day one, that this is going to be one of the hardest things that you will ever do because you are dealing with people; you need to know the whole body, and you need to know everything there is to know about that person,” Berger said.
She said there is a lot of financial assistance available.
Huggins said it's hard, but you will have 100% support from the faculty and administration in successfully getting through this program.
She said, “We want you to succeed, we need nurses.”
Desiree Brower, an admissions counselor, said the application process for fall 2022 will open around Aug. 1, 2021, and applications are only accepted each fall.
Brower said applicants could find the application on their website, under the admissions tab, labeled “Health Program Applicants.” Applicants will also see the sessions.
She said, “We only accept 30 students for dental hygiene, 36 students for radiographic education and 90 students, that's what it has been in the past, for the nursing program.”
Brower said they take the applicants who rank at the top.
“Everyone gets ranked one through 30 for dental hygiene, one through 36 for radiographic education and one through 90 for nursing,” she said.
Brower said applicants can apply for all three programs, but you can only be admitted to one and accept that seat for that one program.
Amber Disbrow, an MC student in the Radiography Program, and she said she would not be able to hold a full-time job while in the program.
“It's a heavy course load, and, like the nursing and dental hygiene department said, I'm physically exhausted by the end of a clinical day. My brain is exhausted by the end of a school day,” said Disbrow.
Brower said, “We believe success starts at Middlesex, and it starts at Middlesex because we want everyone who's there to be successful and achieve the goals that they've set out for.”