Health care careers start at BCCC

Published 12:30 pm Friday, January 6, 2017

Medical careers are relatively secure and expected to increase as Beaufort and other counties in the area see their populations aging.

Beaufort County Community College offers a wide variety of programs to help area residents enter the health care field or advance their career. Options for health care careers at the college vary from paramedic certification to a degree as a medical lab technician.

Paramedics are the only health care professionals to enter the private lives of patients during a moment of crisis. They deal with patients taking too much or too little of their medication, victims of collisions or violence, and heart and respiratory emergencies.

Paramedics can offer emergency medical care for patients who have no way of reaching a hospital by themselves or situations that require immediate, critical care.

Paramedic training is ideal for people who enjoy fast-paced work, dealing with a diverse cross-section of the public and being on the front lines of today’s public health issues, including heart disease and stroke, the opioid epidemic, gun violence and traffic injuries.

Often, rescue workers are cross-trained, meaning that firefighters are also certified as paramedics.

Paramedics function as part of a comprehensive EMS response under medical oversight. They perform interventions with the basic and advanced equipment typically found on an ambulance. BCCC purchased and retrofitted a training ambulance in 2016 with an $18,500 grant from PotashCorp. Successful graduates receive a curriculum certificate and are qualified to seek state certification through the N.C. Office of Emergency Medical Services.

For those who enjoy working behind the scenes, BCCC offers a program for medical laboratory technicians. MLTs do not always engage with patients, instead working with biological specimens such as blood, urine or bacteria. This work is crucial to monitoring patients’ chronic illnesses as well as diagnosing diseases.

Graduates of the program are eligible to take the Board of Certification of the American Society for Clinical Pathology exam. Employment opportunities include laboratories in hospitals, medical offices, and industry and research facilities. Ranked by the College Fund of North Carolina as one of the fastest growing careers in the state, MLT positions are expected to increase by 2.88 percent by 2022. Medical laboratory technicians can play crucial roles in determining the severity of a patient’s cancer or controlling a disease outbreak such as the Zika virus.

Across eastern North Carolina, there are still a multitude of poor health outcomes, often exacerbated by poverty, a lack of access to medical care and an abundance of cheap, nutritionally lacking food. Regardless of the form that health care careers take, these jobs are essential to the continued health and prosperity of a region. The future of eastern North Carolina depends on health care professionals working on the front lines and behind the scenes.

The next paramedic program starts Jan. 11. Students interested in more information about the paramedic program should contact Billy Respass at 252-940-6468 or The next medical lab technology program starts in the fall, but students need to register by April 30. Students interested in medical laboratory technology should contact Erica Caracoglia at 252-940-6425 or