ACC expands healthcare career offerings

By Jennifer Holloway - Staff Writer
Enfield - posted Thu., Sep. 8, 2011
Asnuntuck Community College has added four new healthcare career offerings to its line-up. The college has set up a Dental Operatory Lab for hands-on learning in the dental assistant program. Courtesy photo. - Contributed Photo

Asnuntuck Community College has added four new healthcare programs to its existing six offerings. Under the Workforce Development and Continuing Education Department, ACC now offers non-credit certified career programs in these areas: dental assistant, certified sterilization technician, ophthalmic assistant and certified public safety dispatcher.

“We’re giving skills that are getting people employed,” said Jim Lombella, the director of the department. Lombella said the new programs were added after looking at which fields are predicted to grow by the Department of Labor. He also said the school consulted healthcare professionals. “These are the areas they need,” he said.

All four programs offer national or state certification or credentials, making students immediately employable upon completing coursework. Each program also offers an externship, either built-in or voluntary.

Those in the ophthalmic assistant program will gain hands-on experience at Eyesight and Surgery Associates in Springfield, Mass., while students in the dental assistant program will work in the new Dental Operatory Lab the college began building several months ago.

Lombella said sterilization technician students will work in the dental lab and ACC’s medical lab, but they will also travel off-campus to other sites. Students working toward public safety dispatcher certificates will also gain hands-on experience in a required externship, and by the end of their coursework, students will walk away with five certifications.

Lombella said the department has been flooded with calls and inquiries about the new offerings, and he feels people are looking to ACC because it is affordable. He said similar programs at private institutions would cost between $15,000 and $20,000, while the programs at ACC are between $1,500 and $6,000.

“The purpose of the community college is to be affordable and offer relevant skills to get people back to work,” Lombella added.

The certified public safety dispatcher program is still accepting students for the fall, and it will begin in mid-September or mid-October, depending on enrollment. The dental assistant program has open enrollment, and the other two programs will continue to be available for future semesters. More information can be found at by clicking on “Continuing Education & Allied Health Careers.”

Contact Jennifer Holloway at with story ideas and comments.

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