Two post-baccalaureate certificates to be offered

Rochester Community and Technical College is excited to announce the addition of two new academic certificate programs in our science division.  The “Science Foundations A” and “Science Foundations B” certificates are designed for students who currently hold a baccalaureate degree and want the opportunity to complete coursework necessary to apply for admission to health and other professional schools including medical, physical therapy, veterinary medicine, physician assistant, occupational therapy, pharmacy, dentistry, chiropractic, osteopathic medicine and other professional programs.

RCTC Chemistry Instructor and lead faculty for the newly approved certificates, Heather Sklenicka, Ph.D., says this program, first in the state of Minnesota, has been student-driven from the beginning. “Our students asked why we didn’t have this type of program option.”  She adds, “We saw this as a great opportunity to create an in-demand program and worked with faculty, financial aid, counseling, advising and administration to make our vision a reality.”

The certificates, slated to begin in January 2016, have the support and blessing of some big names in medical schools.  Officials from the University of Minnesota, University of Iowa and Mayo have penned letters indicating their support of the certificates and the proposed coursework will fulfill their academic requirements.  Kathlene Huebner, Director of Admissions at the University of Iowa Medical School, notes, “Their school is committed to finding students who don’t fit the mold for Medical School and [RCTC’s] program would meet the preparation needs for such students.”

“For many years, RCTC has provided high-caliber healthcare-related programs to Rochester and the surrounding community,” said Dr. Greg Mosier, RCTC’s Vice President of Academic Affairs.  “So it only makes sense that we are again a leader among two-year institutions across the country by providing these ‘post-baccalaureate’ certificates. Dr. Sklenicka and the other RCTC science faculty have worked hard to develop these offerings and we are extremely happy to make these available in the spring.”

Former RCTC student Bridget Dolan-Lawler expressed her desire for the program in a letter earlier this year.  “RCTC embodies attributes different from many of the more expensive, distant, post-baccalaureate programs and offers an ideal solution for career changers looking for a more realistic path towards a medically related career.”

“This program is great for art majors or business majors who have decided that they want to go in a different direction from where their undergraduate degrees have taken them,” said Sklenicka.  “It’s also a good fit for those nurses with a bachelor’s degree who may want to go onto to PA [Physician Assistant] or medical school.”

The two pathways, Science Foundations A and B, are designed to be taken sequentially—with the “A” pathway covering more introductory concepts and the “B” pathway engaging students in advanced coursework.  Each certificate is designed to take one academic year to complete, but depending on the student’s educational background, both certificates could be completed in three semesters.

In addition to these two certificate programs, the RCTC Student Life office approved the creation of the “Aspiring Medical Professionals Club.”  Dr. Sklenicka will act as faculty advisor for this group which will help students prepare for entrance exams, find volunteer opportunities and offer support to students in the programs.

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